Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Monday, July 14, 2008

Immigrant song

Greetings from Bury Park is Sarfraz Manzoor's tale of being the rebellious son of Pakistani immigrants. His rebellion is fairly mild by most standards, but seems rather wild to his Pakistani parents. The soundtrack of his life is the work of another son, who was singing about conflict with parents etc - Bruce Springsteen.

Manzoor, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, writes of the conflict between he and his father. His father is tied to his Pakistani roots and Manzoor doesn't know where he belongs. He's not Pakistani. He's not British. And as a teen he's not lucky enough to be American like Bruce. Later in the book he deals with issues of being a moderate Muslim in a country where some conservative Muslims are carrying out terror attacks.

He and his best friend, Amolak, find meaning in analyzing the lyrics of every Springsteen song. As they get older, they find ways to get to concerts like the Springsteen verision of deadheads. There is a visit to the states for a concert after 9/11, which shows that Bruce can united unlikely people.

This is as much the story of his parents as it is his story as well. An arranged marriage and a long separation, while his dad worked to bring the family to England. Their concern about their kids remaining true to their culture and faith. Their need to present a good face to community. So the pressure is on to be exemplary children.

Parts of the book are a little repetitious, but I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is funny how some immigrant tales remain the same, no matter where. Some of his tales sounded like the ones from my family. The dislike of us nasty immigrant Irish and our dangerous Catholicism. :) Coming from the west of Ireland, we didn't speak even English, when we came to the States. So the song remains the same whether in Gaelic or Urdu.


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