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Call Me American: A Memoir (2018)

av Abdi Nor Iftin

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1956141,031 (4.35)2
Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop artists like Michael Jackson and watching films starring action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these real Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches to NPR and the Internet, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Abdi was left with no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee. In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America was filled with twists and turns and a harrowing sequence of events that nearly stranded him in Nairobi. Now a proud resident of Maine and on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin's dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why western democracies still beckon to those looking to make a better life.… (mer)
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Visar 5 av 5
This was an amazing story. I listened to Abdi Iftin's book on Audible and it is one of the most amazing non-fiction books I have ever read. It was heartbreaking and also filled with hope, and his persistence was just so inspiring.

Call Me American is an amazing addition to the American immigrant literature genre and something I hope to read more of in 2019. Before reading this I did not know a lot about Somalia and so I learned so much not only about Iftin and his journey to America but also the modern history of Somalia. The war-torn country and his years-long journey to become an American citizen is something I will never forget.

It was such an important reminder for me about just how many people live in places like this and are fleeing their countries just for a chance at survival. I think this should be required reading for everyone. Thank you to Abdi Iftin for sharing your story. ( )
  genthebookworm | Dec 19, 2020 |
Call me American by Abdi Nor Iftin is a memoir of a refugee escaping war and terror. The story depicts the dream of America - the chance for a better life and the chance to work hard and work honestly for that life. Despite all the hardships, Abdi Nor Iftin is perhaps the lucky one. He did win the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery, and the visa was honored. What of all the people for whom that is not the case? After reading this amazing story, that is the question I am left with.

Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2018/11/call-me-american.html

Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program. ( )
  njmom3 | Nov 1, 2018 |
"My future was a mystery, but at least I was leaving hell forever." from Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin

Abdi's Somalian parents were nomadic herders of camel and goats. His mother bore battle scars from the large cats she fought while protecting her herd. In 1977, drought left his parents with no option but to go to the city of Mogadishu. His father found work as a manual laborer before he became a successful basketball star. When Abdi was born in 1985, his family was living a comfortable life.

Also in 1977 Somalia and Ethiopia went to war marking the beginning of decades-long military and political instability. Clan warfare arose with warlords ruling Mogadishu.

By the time Abdi was six years old, the city had become a war zone and his family had lost everything had fled the city. Existence became a search for safety, with starvation and the threat of death their constant companions.

Call Me American is Abdi's story of how he survived.

Abdi tells of years of horror and fear yet there is no anger or self-pity in his telling. He and his brother Hassam used their wiles to provide their mother with the necessities of water and a little maize and milk for meals.

When Abdi discovered American movies and music and culture he fell in love with America, and by imitating the culture in the movies became Abdi American. He envisioned a life of personal freedom. He taught himself English and then educated others. He was discovered by NPR's This American Life and he sent them secret dispatches about his life.

After radical Islamists took power, anything Western was outlawed. Abdi was punished if he grew his hair too long and had to hide his boom box and music that once provided entertainment at weddings. His girlfriend had to wear a burka and they could no longer walk the sandy beach hand-in-hand.

Knowing he faced the choice of death or joining the radical Islamic militia, Abdi pursued every option to come to America. The process is complicated and few are accepted. He fled Somalia to join his brother at a Kenyan refugee camp where his brother had gone years before.

Abdi had his NPR contacts and even letters from seven US Senators (including Senator Stabenow and Senator Peters from my home state of Michigan) but was turned down. Miraculously, Abdi was a diversity immigrant lottery winner. The required papers were a struggle to obtain when they existed at all. He had to bribe police, and transport to get to the airport. He was 'adopted' by an American family but had to learn the culture and find employment. After several years Abdi found work as a Somali-English translator and is now in law school.

I read this during the Fourth of July week. I don't think anything else could have impressed on me the privileged and protected life I have enjoyed. America has its problems, and when Abdi wins the green card lottery and completes the complicated process necessary to come to America he sees them first hand.

I am thankful for the personal freedoms I have enjoyed. I have never had to sleep in a dirt hole in the ground for protection or worried that by flushing the toilet soldiers would discover me and force me into the militia. No teacher ever strung me up by the wrists and whipped me. I never dodged bullets to get a bucket of water.

I could go on.

Somalia is one of the countries that Trump included in the immigration ban. Had Abdi not escaped when he did, he would not have been allowed to come to America.

I am here to make America great. I did not come here to take anything. I came here to contribute, and to offer and to give. Abdi Nor Iftin in NPR interview

I won a book from the publisher in a giveaway. ( )
  nancyadair | Jul 13, 2018 |
This book is a memoir that teaches a current events lesson about Somalia and provides a first person account of what it truly means to live in a country of never ending war.

The story of Abdi Nor Iftin's life begins in the livestock holding bush of Somalia. Drought forces his family to leave the only life his parents and their ancestor have ever known and to move to Mogadishu. The life adjustments are significant, but prosperity is reached due to the athleticism of Abdi's father. This balance is up ended once political upheaval tears the country apart. Citizens are caught in the cross fire, and the trials and worries continue for Abdi, even once he is able to immigrate to the United States.

I learned so much about Somalia, Kenya, immigration, and Islam from reading this book. It's worth reading a second, even third time. Even with all of the hardships and the constant worries of survival, Abdi manages to find niches of enjoyment. It was particularly interesting to read about how Abdi was able to self teach the English language and familiarize himself with American culture.

It's an incredible account.

Thank you to First to Read for providing me with an advance galley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  MNTreehugger | Jun 9, 2018 |
Growing up in war-torn Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin narrowly escaped death more than a few times. Watching American movies provided a source of comfort to him and it's how he was able to learn English. But in 2006, Islamic extremists come to power and Western culture influences are not only banned but could have deadly consequences for Abdi. With the help of strangers who have been captivated by Abdi sharing his experiences on NPR and the Internet, he is able to flee to Kenya and eventually finds his way to America via the visa lottery. But does the land of the free meet Abdi's expectations?

I feel like whatever I write in this review won't do this book justice. I really hope this book finds an audience because Abdi's life story is incredible and one worth reading. I read memoirs frequently, including ones that take place in war-torn countries, and I would place this book among the very best I have read in the genre. It took me on a roller coaster of emotions. His descriptions of his life growing up are heartbreaking but through it all his spirit somehow remains unbreakable. I can't say enough good things about this book and it's one I highly recommend!

Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views considered are my honest opinion. ( )
  fastforward | May 15, 2018 |
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Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop artists like Michael Jackson and watching films starring action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these real Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches to NPR and the Internet, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Abdi was left with no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee. In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America was filled with twists and turns and a harrowing sequence of events that nearly stranded him in Nairobi. Now a proud resident of Maine and on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin's dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why western democracies still beckon to those looking to make a better life.

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