Coming of age in a dying American town is hard enough. But if
you're Middle Eastern and gay...It's early 2001 in the small
industrial town of Lackawanna, just south of Buffalo. Asim Zahid is
on the verge of adulthood and anxious to escape to the University
of Michigan, but tying up loose ends at home as well as the
prospect of a new love provide thorny obstacles. The new love is an
improbably easygoing redhead named Billy, and the very ease of this
budding relationship causes Asim to question it. The major loose
end comes in the person of the fragile Sonia, whose sense of
reality is skewed by a lifelong immersion in classic old films. The
Latvian-born Sonia was the mistress of Asim's recently deceased
father, and Asim promised to look after her as well as the
Bethlehem Theater, the movie house which has been the family
business for decades. Both Asim and Sonia have literally hundreds
of films as reference points. (An early scene finds them comparing
the relative merits of big-screen James Bonds, past and present.)
Indeed, their film-viewing histories frame their observations of
the world around them. While the chapters from Asim's perspective
are bathed in longing, Sonia dreamily morphs memories of past films
into her analysis of a bedside clock, a homeless man, Asim's
current mood, etc. The third character in the family mix is Asim's
angry brother Tarik, who impugns the sexuality of both Asim and his
father (correctly, it turns out). Tarik, who also has his cinematic
influences, may be edging into a terrorist cell, less from
political conviction than from inner turbulence.Despite a dearth of
plot, Zebrun's ruminative second novel (Someone You Know, 2004)
captivates through the complexity and vulnerability of its
characters and the excellence of its prose, polished to a luminous
transparency. (Kirkus Reviews)
Asim, gay and 19, is ready to bust out of his rundown steel
town, Lackawanna, N.Y., for the University of Michigan. Even the
cherished family business -- a movie house called The Bethlehem --
and its nightly dose of celluloid dreams no longer captivate him.
But the bright future he envisions is turned upside down when his
father dies and leaves him with the keys to the theater and the job
of caring for the old man's Russian lover. As if he needs another
problem, he discovers that his brother Tarik is headed off to some
kind of training camp in the Afghanistan desert, and when he
returns, he ensnarls Asim and others in a dangerous fanaticism that
peaks on September 11, 2001.Gary Zebrun's first novel, "Someone You
Know," was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. The recipient of
Yaddo, MacDowell and Bread Loaf fellowships, he is the Sunday news
editor at The Providence Journal, in Rhode Island. His work has
appeared in T"he New York Times," "The New Republic," "The Iowa
Review," "Sewanee Review," "The Believer Book of Writers Talking To
Writers, " and elsewhere.
Alyson Publications Inc
|Country of origin:
||216 x 140 x 15mm (L x W x T)
General & literary fiction >
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