Welcome To Americastan
By Jabeen Akhtar
Identity crisis does not seem to spare anyone. Be it an Indian, or a Pakistani, or a Britisher who have now made the United States of America their home.
Welcome to Americastan is one such novel that deals with not just the quest for one’s identity but also brings out the quirks in one’s life.
He chooses her best friend over her. And this is not a pretty situation to be in. In a fit of anger, Samira tries to run him over but as fate would have it, she lands up on the FBI’s terror watch list. And this brilliant move of lands her behind the bars, which in turn sees her being fired from her job (of course!) as legislative aide to a Congressman.
This is just the onset of her problems. And it all goes down-hill from thereon, as she moves in with her eccentric family in North Carolina.
Her father is a strong supporter of the Pakistani American Council (PAC), and a weirdly funny man. His arguments will make you chuckle- sometime in disbelief, and sometimes…just! Her mother is a typical mother as anyone else’s. She ends up spiking the punch with rum, and grumbles all along as she prepares delicious meals for family and friends who seem to be forever visiting or piled up in their home. This also means that Samira’s and her siblings are always at the receiving end of their parents verbosities.
Sam’s parents know nothing of what she has been through and think she is on a vacation. But when the truth is revealed, apart from the trauma, there is much humor. Youngsters in the house seem to be living a dual life.
Amidst all the drama and dilemma and confusion, Samira nurses her broken heart and gathers her strength to stand up again to face the world with all its offerings.
I like the way the details of a typical Pakistani family are covered. From the blatant use of swear words to what’s happening where and how and by whom – the typical nosey-pokey stuff brings in a lot of humor and laughs. The quirks of a traditional family that has its youth bending towards the modern society, bring out the stark realities that immigrant families face. They don’t know where they belong- to Pakistan or to America or to both…and how.
There are glimpses of racism and sexism. There are traces of cultural loss. There are hints of identity crises. All woven in to a web of satire, sprinkled with humor and garnished with wit.
A fast paced read, the writing style is refreshing and captivating. The plot never fades out. In fact, it keeps you wanting to read further.
The author seems to have a clear picture of what she wants to show her readers and delivers just that. The humor and the narrative are bound to keep you hooked till the very end. At a point you’d want the pages to increase. Such is the grasp of the author.
I highly recommend this one.