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An Immigrant Love-Hate Story of What it Means to Be American. "A rare voice that is both relatable and unafraid to examine the complexities of her American identity.” —Reza Aslan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff An Immigrant Love-Hate Story of What it Means to Be American. "A rare voice that is both relatable and unafraid to examine the complexities of her American identity.” —Reza Aslan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff is happening out of earshot (#FOMO)? That’s life—especially for an immigrant. What happens when a shy, awkward Arab girl with a weird name and an unfortunate propensity toward facial hair is uprooted from her comfortable (albeit fascist-regimed) homeland of Iraq and thrust into the cold, alien town of Columbus, Ohio—with its Egg McMuffins, Barbie dolls, and kids playing doctor everywhere you turned? This is Ayser Salman’s story. First comes Emigration, then Naturalization, and finally Assimilation—trying to fit in among her blonde-haired, blue-eyed counterparts, and always feeling left out. On her journey to Americanhood, Ayser sees more naked butts at pre-kindergarten daycare that she would like, breaks one of her parents’ rules (“Thou shalt not participate as an actor in the school musical where a male cast member rests his head in thy lap”), and other things good Muslim Arab girls are not supposed to do. And, after the 9/11 attacks, she experiences the isolation of being a Muslim in her own country. It takes hours of therapy, fifty-five rounds of electrolysis, and some ill-advised romantic dalliances for Ayser to grow into a modern Arab American woman who embraces her cultural differences. Part memoir and part how-not-to guide, The Wrong End of the Table is everything you wanted to know about Arabs but were afraid to ask, with chapters such as “Tattoos and Other National Security Risks,” “You Can’t Blame Everything on Your Period; Sometimes You’re Going to Be a Crazy Bitch: and Other Advice from Mom,” and even an open letter to Trump. This is the story of every American outsider on a path to find themselves in a country of beautiful diversity.


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An Immigrant Love-Hate Story of What it Means to Be American. "A rare voice that is both relatable and unafraid to examine the complexities of her American identity.” —Reza Aslan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff An Immigrant Love-Hate Story of What it Means to Be American. "A rare voice that is both relatable and unafraid to examine the complexities of her American identity.” —Reza Aslan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff is happening out of earshot (#FOMO)? That’s life—especially for an immigrant. What happens when a shy, awkward Arab girl with a weird name and an unfortunate propensity toward facial hair is uprooted from her comfortable (albeit fascist-regimed) homeland of Iraq and thrust into the cold, alien town of Columbus, Ohio—with its Egg McMuffins, Barbie dolls, and kids playing doctor everywhere you turned? This is Ayser Salman’s story. First comes Emigration, then Naturalization, and finally Assimilation—trying to fit in among her blonde-haired, blue-eyed counterparts, and always feeling left out. On her journey to Americanhood, Ayser sees more naked butts at pre-kindergarten daycare that she would like, breaks one of her parents’ rules (“Thou shalt not participate as an actor in the school musical where a male cast member rests his head in thy lap”), and other things good Muslim Arab girls are not supposed to do. And, after the 9/11 attacks, she experiences the isolation of being a Muslim in her own country. It takes hours of therapy, fifty-five rounds of electrolysis, and some ill-advised romantic dalliances for Ayser to grow into a modern Arab American woman who embraces her cultural differences. Part memoir and part how-not-to guide, The Wrong End of the Table is everything you wanted to know about Arabs but were afraid to ask, with chapters such as “Tattoos and Other National Security Risks,” “You Can’t Blame Everything on Your Period; Sometimes You’re Going to Be a Crazy Bitch: and Other Advice from Mom,” and even an open letter to Trump. This is the story of every American outsider on a path to find themselves in a country of beautiful diversity.

30 review for The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    My thanks to Skyhorse Publishing, and Netgalley. Ayser Salman is a freak of nature! I expected all.sort of Immigrant angst from her. Nope. Not a peep. She did experience a few weird things that most of us didnt. Sorry Ayser, the smacking of butts in preschool must be an Ohio thing. Heck, it's probably in their college chant song, but since the rest of us aren't Midwesterners then we don't understand it! It is after all Ohio! My favorite thing about Ayser? She's human! Yep! Who'd a thunk it? She l My thanks to Skyhorse Publishing, and Netgalley. Ayser Salman is a freak of nature! I expected all.sort of Immigrant angst from her. Nope. Not a peep. She did experience a few weird things that most of us didnt. Sorry Ayser, the smacking of butts in preschool must be an Ohio thing. Heck, it's probably in their college chant song, but since the rest of us aren't Midwesterners then we don't understand it! It is after all Ohio! My favorite thing about Ayser? She's human! Yep! Who'd a thunk it? She leaves Iraq at.3. Comes.to Ohio, U.S.A., where.some really odd things happen in school! Yet, she still hasn't given up on us yet! Kentucky. Saudi Arabia. She meets some of her favorite people ever in S.A. Sorry, Saudi Arabia..Not South Africa.Then she's here, home again. My favorite thing about Ayser is just how very girl next door she is. Ayser would have been my friend, although I'd have stopped her.from.wearing all.those stupid, preppy clothes! Oh, she wouldn't have thanked me though, because I'd have put her in suede cowboy boots, with some tight levis, and legwarmers, and cowboys chasing her all over the place! Sorry, but there was no point to any of it if those cowboys weren't knock, knock, knocking! I'm all.seriousness though Ayser is funny. Her family is one of whom most would envy. Annoying? At times, sure. But love always rings true. Fuck Trump and his xenophobia. I'm Scottish. Trumps Scottish! 😠😡 I'll take people looking to better themselves, over people who think one is better than themselves!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I enjoyed this memoir from Ayser Salman - it is full of funny and relatable moments, magnified by occasional cultural misunderstandings. Ayser moved from Iraq to Ohio to Saudi Arabia, and experiences awkwardness everywhere. The memoir finishes up in the almost present day, with stories about dating in her 40s. I love the interactions with her parents in particular. I received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss, and it came out 5 March 2019.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    Every American should read this book. Salman examines growing up in the United States as a female Muslim and always feeling like she is sitting “at the wrong end of the table”. Moving with her family when she was young from Iraq to Columbus, Ohio, Salman endured culture shock of epic proportions. Daily American life occasionally placed her in positions that ran contrary to her religious beliefs and following the 9/11 attacks, Salman experienced hostility for simply being Muslim. I thoroughly enj Every American should read this book. Salman examines growing up in the United States as a female Muslim and always feeling like she is sitting “at the wrong end of the table”. Moving with her family when she was young from Iraq to Columbus, Ohio, Salman endured culture shock of epic proportions. Daily American life occasionally placed her in positions that ran contrary to her religious beliefs and following the 9/11 attacks, Salman experienced hostility for simply being Muslim. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and felt I learned a lot about a culture with which I was not very familiar. For more reviews, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro... and my newsletter: https://www.cfapage.net/subscribe.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    This book is a fun and light look into the life of an immigrant to the us from Iraq. It’s humorous though doesn’t dig particularly deep. It’s an easy read with some observations that are insightful though not life/world changing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    I picked this up off of Edelweiss because I'm making a conscious effort to read books by authors with a broader range of backgrounds. In that regard, this was an excellent memoir about a woman whose family immigrated from Iran to Kentucky to Saudi Arabia, then back to the US. Ayser Salman's story could not be more different than my own. But, honestly, the bulk of this book didn't really do that much for me. Some of the stories made me giggle a little and a handful helped me see things from a dif I picked this up off of Edelweiss because I'm making a conscious effort to read books by authors with a broader range of backgrounds. In that regard, this was an excellent memoir about a woman whose family immigrated from Iran to Kentucky to Saudi Arabia, then back to the US. Ayser Salman's story could not be more different than my own. But, honestly, the bulk of this book didn't really do that much for me. Some of the stories made me giggle a little and a handful helped me see things from a different perspective—especially when Salman recounted the period of her childhood in which she lived in Saudi Arabia—but I felt like that vast majority of the stories were lacking in depth. Many were very brief, just a couple pages long in the digital format, and amounted to little more than recounting a single event or factoid that could have been relayed in a few sentences—relaying a single bullying incident or how she embarrassed herself in from of a childhood crush one time. I felt like there could have been a greater sense of reflection on how these many incidents played into a bigger picture, maybe even a greater sense of cohesiveness throughout the book. Also, there was a chapter in which she spoke about going on a date with a Muslim man who spoke about other Muslim ethnicities in blanket statements grounded in stereotypes: Lebanese women do this, Egyptian women do that...this upset Salman, which is justified. But, then, in the very next chapter, she made statements about how all Muslim families do certain things. It was the very same behavior that she had just complained about. I probably wouldn't have even noticed if she hadn't literally just complained about it, and I found that mildly irritating. That being said, I do think this is a worthwhile read for anyone looking to expand their horizons a little bit. Salman does do a nice job conveying some of the challenges of growing up Muslim and event being a Muslim adult in am America where "Muslim" is often synonymous with "the bad guy." I just wouldn't expect to have your mind blown by this one...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I really wanted to love this, but I'll be honest - it was a slog. For a comedy writer, this wasn't very funny. The chapters were all short stories about her life and while I get that's what memoirs are, it's the writer's job to take those short snippets and turn them into interesting, or educational, or fun prose. Salman failed and Wrong End is just a strange, rambling dinner conversation where you're not quite sure why your guest is telling you all this, but you nod politely anyway. I liked the I really wanted to love this, but I'll be honest - it was a slog. For a comedy writer, this wasn't very funny. The chapters were all short stories about her life and while I get that's what memoirs are, it's the writer's job to take those short snippets and turn them into interesting, or educational, or fun prose. Salman failed and Wrong End is just a strange, rambling dinner conversation where you're not quite sure why your guest is telling you all this, but you nod politely anyway. I liked the premise - growing up in an increasingly divided America as an Iraqi-Muslim immigrant, I just wish there had been more ... something... to the book. More heart, or more humour. I would have given this 3 stars but had to take off an entire star for the sheer number of ridiculous footnotes. Good God, those things were unnecessary, unfunny and distracting.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brittany | thebookishfiiasco

    thank you to Get Red PR and Sky Horse Publishing for sharing this memoir with me! . i’m already a sucker for a good memoir, but i really appreciated the longitudinal story telling, the different cultural experiences, and the way the Ayser writes as a whole in this memoir. there is humor weaved throughout the entirety of the book, while also maintaining authenticity and the realness of each story. i’ve caught myself laughing and immediately feeling all the feelings right after. it has been interest thank you to Get Red PR and Sky Horse Publishing for sharing this memoir with me! . i’m already a sucker for a good memoir, but i really appreciated the longitudinal story telling, the different cultural experiences, and the way the Ayser writes as a whole in this memoir. there is humor weaved throughout the entirety of the book, while also maintaining authenticity and the realness of each story. i’ve caught myself laughing and immediately feeling all the feelings right after. it has been interesting and eye opening to read about Ayser’s experiences living in different countries at various ages and stages of her life. her resilience and capacity to check in with herself among so much change is something really sticking with me. i’ve found myself processing alongside Ayser in some of these stories, and have found the process to feel really human and healing. . reading this memoir as a white woman, it feels important to me to acknowledge my privilege and differences as i read what she went through, starting at a very young age. i have not experienced all that comes with immigration, emigration, and assimilation that she shares about in her stories, and while we have experienced similar historical traumas, i acknowledge the differences in impact these traumas had on our lives, simply based on race and ethnicity alone. i appreciate her openness and vulnerability and know that i will never fully understand all that she went through. i’m grateful to have learned more about her and her experiences, and encourage you to approach this book with an open mind and open heart, because i promise you, we all have something to learn from one another, and you will definitely do so in reading this book. . 4/5 ⭐️

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    I loved Ayser Salman's reading of her memoir! She is so funny, authentic, and refreshing. A great pick for audio.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda Zagon

    Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Wrong End of the Table A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim American Woman Just Trying to Fit In” by Ayser Salman, Skyhorse Publishing, March 5, 2019 Ayser Salman, Author of “The Wrong End of the Table, A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab Woman Just Trying to Fit In” has written an entertaining and witty Memoir. Ayser Salman writes about her traditional and immigrant parents who left an oppressed life for freedom in America. As a little girl, Ayser had a diffic Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Wrong End of the Table A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim American Woman Just Trying to Fit In” by Ayser Salman, Skyhorse Publishing, March 5, 2019 Ayser Salman, Author of “The Wrong End of the Table, A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab Woman Just Trying to Fit In” has written an entertaining and witty Memoir. Ayser Salman writes about her traditional and immigrant parents who left an oppressed life for freedom in America. As a little girl, Ayser had a difficult time adjusting to the environment and the other children in Columbus, Ohio. She always felt like an outcast. Her parents were very strict, and found it difficult to understand the modern ways of American life. Ayser Salman writes honestly and shares how her parent’s cultural and traditional values differed in many ways from the expectations that Ayser felt in America. Ayser also writes how the politics in America, made her carefully rethink choices that she had. She candidly writes her dating experiences, and friendships. I found Asyer Salman’s experiences intriguing. I would recommend this for readers who enjoy memoirs. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Louise Rozett

    It takes guts to reference Garanimals, McMuffins, and dictators in one book, but Salman pulls it off with panache, aplomb, flair, and all the other words like that. I love this very funny—sometimes poignantly funny; sometimes dark; sometimes dramatic—and fascinating memoir about a highly-visible girl who would prefer to remain invisible as she tries to figure out how to adapt to a new culture, and then adapt to a different but familiar culture, and then re-readapt (is that a thing?) to the first It takes guts to reference Garanimals, McMuffins, and dictators in one book, but Salman pulls it off with panache, aplomb, flair, and all the other words like that. I love this very funny—sometimes poignantly funny; sometimes dark; sometimes dramatic—and fascinating memoir about a highly-visible girl who would prefer to remain invisible as she tries to figure out how to adapt to a new culture, and then adapt to a different but familiar culture, and then re-readapt (is that a thing?) to the first new culture. That girl grows into a teen with secret boyfriends and a dream of being a rock star, who grows into a college student grappling with confusion over being called white while also facing discrimination for being Iraqi, who grows into a grad student in film school in LA whose boyfriend's mother buys her a cross.... I'm sorry—am I ruining this book for you? Okay, suffice it to say this is a fantastic, funny, moving ride that delves into important ideas about racism, identity, intersectionality, and sanitary pads as clothing de-fuzzers. Enjoy. And whatever you do, don't skip the footnotes—they're as delightful as the main text.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    The following review is my personal opinion and in thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for an advance readers’ ebook. I laughed my way through this charming book of an Iraqi woman and her experience growing up in America. I suppose I can relate being quite shy and insecure of myself growing up, but also knowing what it’s like living abroad. I had a good friend from a Turkish Muslim family and remember similar sentiments from them also. I won’t think of McDonald’s or money the same way. Th The following review is my personal opinion and in thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for an advance readers’ ebook. I laughed my way through this charming book of an Iraqi woman and her experience growing up in America. I suppose I can relate being quite shy and insecure of myself growing up, but also knowing what it’s like living abroad. I had a good friend from a Turkish Muslim family and remember similar sentiments from them also. I won’t think of McDonald’s or money the same way. The book also shows we have way more in common with immigrants than many realize and the book is being published at a very pertinent time in history. I liked all the endnotes and especially learning the thoughts of her family. Kids are still jerks and my heart ached multiple times for Ayser Eraser. (Ok, could not resist adding that). Only dislike is the use of swearing where it’s really not necessary.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Schantz

    I enjoyed the audible version, which is read by the author. Some parts were laugh out loud funny!! The very beginning seemed like it could have used a bit more editing due to some redundancies in storytelling, but this was a mount distraction. I’m also a bit perplexed by the marketing of the book, which highlights a move to Cols, OH (though this is such a small part of the actual book). Nevertheless, I thought it was a really moving memoir, and I’m glad that it was chosen for my book club!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mahin

    Ayser Salman has found herself at the wrong end of the table for years, having straddled many - and seemingly disparate - identities. Born in Iraq, Ayser moved to the US at the age of three along with her family who sought to escape Iraq’s fascist and authoritarian regime. Ayser and her siblings grew up in Lexington, Kentucky; a town with few Arabs and foreigners at the time. In her memoir, Ayser recounts the challenges of growing up in a homogenous American town as the child of immigrants. Her Ayser Salman has found herself at the wrong end of the table for years, having straddled many - and seemingly disparate - identities. Born in Iraq, Ayser moved to the US at the age of three along with her family who sought to escape Iraq’s fascist and authoritarian regime. Ayser and her siblings grew up in Lexington, Kentucky; a town with few Arabs and foreigners at the time. In her memoir, Ayser recounts the challenges of growing up in a homogenous American town as the child of immigrants. Her parents, while highly educated and enthralled by Americana, are rather traditional and conservative, though the intensity declines with time. As a result, Ayser, who is hellbent on assimilating, finds it challenging to live life as a typical American girl. In her memoir, Ayser shares funny anecdotes about her life and how she has changed from wanting to assimilate to reconciling her dual identities as an American, Iraqi and Muslim. Hers is an interesting account as she is in her forties and immigrated to the US decades ago. In general, most of the information concerning American Muslims centres on those who have recently immigrated (in the last two decades, maybe) as opposed to long-established Muslim immigrants (which dates back to the 19th century and even further in some cases). It’s quite interesting to read about Ayser’s experiences in Kentucky and Saudi Arabia (where she spent part of her adolescence); it’s a fascinating juxtaposition. If you are looking for a humourous look into the life of a moderate Iraqi-American Muslim, this could be the book for you. I certainly enjoyed reading about Ayser’s life. Thank you to NetGalley, Skyhorse Publishing, and Ayser Salman for the privilege of reading this title prior to its publication.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amina Ibrahim

    “At the wrong end of the table” is an exaggerating written, a humorous memoir of an Iraqi-Muslim, Ayser Salman. She recounts her life from when she was three and her family immigrated to America to escape the Saddam Hussain’s regime. The author was lucky as she escaped and had good opportunities, but she was always at the wrong end of the table, hence the title. Ayser wanted to be like other kids, a normal American, maybe one of the cool kids too. But she was always the weird lesbian girl (which “At the wrong end of the table” is an exaggerating written, a humorous memoir of an Iraqi-Muslim, Ayser Salman. She recounts her life from when she was three and her family immigrated to America to escape the Saddam Hussain’s regime. The author was lucky as she escaped and had good opportunities, but she was always at the wrong end of the table, hence the title. Ayser wanted to be like other kids, a normal American, maybe one of the cool kids too. But she was always the weird lesbian girl (which she’s not) and called  Ayser eraser (and some other names too, but you’ll have to know the story behind them). The book is all about how she overcomes her insecurities and becomes an independent member of the society all while keeping a balance between traditions and regulations set by her parents and the society she lived in. Memoirs aren’t my cup of tea (or coffee) but when I read the words Muslim and humor, I decided to read it. There was humor, but every humorous thing had been exaggerated and I think the word Muslim was only on the title, the book was more about being an Iraqi than a Muslim. The book shows the political aspect of 9-11 and how she felt as an Iraqi-American. Ayser Salman finally got at the right end of the table The book was a good read. It tells how immigrants feel and what they go through in their daily life as an American citizen.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    3.5 stars As mentioned in the preface of the book, I think b/c we are not only a country but also a world made up of many, many different people, the representation of this should be more diverse in our entertainment. (ie. books, movies, tv, music, etc.) So I do think it’s important that stories like these are published & read. For me, it helps get another viewpoint as well as knowledge of a different culture. That being said, I liked this book. The writer has a great sense of humor which is transl 3.5 stars As mentioned in the preface of the book, I think b/c we are not only a country but also a world made up of many, many different people, the representation of this should be more diverse in our entertainment. (ie. books, movies, tv, music, etc.) So I do think it’s important that stories like these are published & read. For me, it helps get another viewpoint as well as knowledge of a different culture. That being said, I liked this book. The writer has a great sense of humor which is translated easily into her narrative. The footnotes did bug me a bit as this wasn’t a text book. But I did end up reading them & most were amusing little sidenotes. And a shout out to the author herself, my sister & I discovered the film "Bugsy Malone" one day while flipping thru the cable channels. But unlike your dad, ours thought it was a hoot. So he searched for a copy of the film for us & would join us in our acting it out. So i say, "Hazzah, soul sister!" And i urge people to look up that movie b/c it should be a cult classic. And actually, even though I'm not a Muslim born Iraqi raised in KY, there were a lot of parts of the book that i could identify with. (especially a mom wanting me to be married w/kids, the awful dates, and naive teen flirting which i still can't do well)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mystica

    Though described as a "mostly comic memoir" it is also a very factual account of immigrant life and how someone will cope in modern America. Considering the "Muslim" question post 9/11 Ayser had a tough time as it is to assimilate and be part of the crowd from the time she was a little girl. She was just different and she had a tough time beginning with her name. Her parents were highly educated, modern and forward thinking but they still carried with them different ideas re women and their behav Though described as a "mostly comic memoir" it is also a very factual account of immigrant life and how someone will cope in modern America. Considering the "Muslim" question post 9/11 Ayser had a tough time as it is to assimilate and be part of the crowd from the time she was a little girl. She was just different and she had a tough time beginning with her name. Her parents were highly educated, modern and forward thinking but they still carried with them different ideas re women and their behaviour and this carried out in their way of thinking towards their daughters. It did change by the end of the book, but it seemed hard and this seems to be quite the form and commonplace for most immigrant daughters Muslim or not! Taking place across Iraq their place of origin which they got out in the nick of time, then crossing over to Kentucky and then back again to Saudi Arabia in which Ayser fit in surprisingly well and then back to the States where Ayser grew up and lived her adult life. Trying to find love, life and a balance between pleasing everyone else and then finally beginning to please herself. This memoir, bit of travel guide and biography was tongue in cheek humor and factual as well. Enjoyable read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jan Reatherford

    I enjoyed the style the author used to portray her real life emotional journey of immigration, assimilation, and acceptance of being an American female Muslim from Iraq in the USA. She successfully uses humor to diffuse many embarrassing or hurtful events while trying to fit into the new culture. Her mother adds the finishing touches making me smile just thinking of how mothers everywhere can be so illogical, making no sense at all, when trying to convince a headstrong child of the error of thei I enjoyed the style the author used to portray her real life emotional journey of immigration, assimilation, and acceptance of being an American female Muslim from Iraq in the USA. She successfully uses humor to diffuse many embarrassing or hurtful events while trying to fit into the new culture. Her mother adds the finishing touches making me smile just thinking of how mothers everywhere can be so illogical, making no sense at all, when trying to convince a headstrong child of the error of their ways. I have several Muslim friends and considered myself to be fairly knowledgeable about the traditions, etc. but this opened my eyes to the possible inner turmoil that could be simmering under the surface. The subtle prejudice that can exist in what seems to be an accepting environment makes me wonder how much I truly really understand without having the experience myself. The book is a fast, enjoyable read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    The Happy Bibliophile

    Ayser’s story is the perfect juxtaposition between the immigrant trying to fit into American society as well as the Muslim Arab raised in America that no longer fits into Arabic society. Essentially, Ayser is in limbo between two worlds that she doesn’t quite fit into. No matter where she sits, she’s on the wrong end of the table. Ayser’s journey reflected the journey that many people go through. I can relate to spending a major portion of your life trying to assimilate and working so hard to sho Ayser’s story is the perfect juxtaposition between the immigrant trying to fit into American society as well as the Muslim Arab raised in America that no longer fits into Arabic society. Essentially, Ayser is in limbo between two worlds that she doesn’t quite fit into. No matter where she sits, she’s on the wrong end of the table. Ayser’s journey reflected the journey that many people go through. I can relate to spending a major portion of your life trying to assimilate and working so hard to show that even though you have brown skin, you’re just like everyone one else around you. Then moving from that narrative to one of accepting your reality and finding peace with who you are and creating a balance between your lifestyle, your culture and your ethnicity. *This e-ARC was provided to me from Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aubree (mnreadingmama) Cheadle

    Wow. I LOVED this book. I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a while and I finally got to it. (My library didn’t have it until I recommended it for purchase and they did! Hurrah!) This book was totally binge-read-worthy. It was equal parts funny and entertaining as well as insightful and educational. It definitely opened my eyes to a perspective I hadn’t considered much before — that of a Muslim, Iraqi-born immigrant living in the United States — which is exactly what I look for in a good Wow. I LOVED this book. I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a while and I finally got to it. (My library didn’t have it until I recommended it for purchase and they did! Hurrah!) This book was totally binge-read-worthy. It was equal parts funny and entertaining as well as insightful and educational. It definitely opened my eyes to a perspective I hadn’t considered much before — that of a Muslim, Iraqi-born immigrant living in the United States — which is exactly what I look for in a good memoir. Highly recommend!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for the ARC of this hilarious and heart-warming memoir about Ayser Salman, a woman born in Iraq and raised in the United States after her parents escaped a fascist regime under Saddam Hussain. As the author promised, all the questions you have but are too polite to ask about Muslims are answered in a blunt and comical prose. I recommend this book to anyone who loves memoirs and learning about different cultures.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Moira

    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review (publication date: 3/5/2019). It’s not often you come across a memoir that’s both entertaining but also educational. Reading this was like having an extended chat with a friend, covering every subject under the sun. My only issue was the number of footnotes and how much additional information was found there.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michele Gardiner

    This is why I love memoir and true storytelling; I get to see the world through other people's eyes and experiences. Yet, I relate to some things Ayser Salman experienced: For one, being the new, different kid at school with the weird food in odd containers.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Pretty funny.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    MY FULL REVIEW IS SCHEDULED TO GO UP ON FEB 23 ON MY BLOG (https://bookishr.wordpress.com) 💫 Hilarious (and insightful) voice — especially for a memoir! I know some memoirs can be a little dull, but I've had so much luck with the ones I've picked up over the last year or so. And, luckily, this memoir was one of the best I have read in a long, long time. The way Ayser retells events from her childhood, in particular, is phenomenal. Having been bullied for her race and culture cannot have been easy, MY FULL REVIEW IS SCHEDULED TO GO UP ON FEB 23 ON MY BLOG (https://bookishr.wordpress.com) 💫 Hilarious (and insightful) voice — especially for a memoir! I know some memoirs can be a little dull, but I've had so much luck with the ones I've picked up over the last year or so. And, luckily, this memoir was one of the best I have read in a long, long time. The way Ayser retells events from her childhood, in particular, is phenomenal. Having been bullied for her race and culture cannot have been easy, but she narrates all these horrible events with so much humor, you can't help but laugh. I mean, how many writers can turn rejecting your crush's promposal for your parents' religious beliefs into something hilarious?! 💫 Self-deprecating humor is my favorite Being a memoir detailing a lot of Ayser Salman's fuck-ups throughout life, it's no wonder that there's a fair share of self-deprecating jokes and stories. And I loved every single one of them. From her mistakes while dating in her 20s to peeing herself in front of everyone and playing it as if she had spilled water on her pants, Ayser is a queen when it comes to making fun of herself. 💫 Footnotes. Lots and lots of funny footnotes I'm crazy about footnotes and this one really piles high with them. Every chapter has heaps of footnotes that add snarky, funny comments to whatever Ayser is telling us about. For example, she will be telling you about that time she was pushed in middle grade and at the same time she is adding footnotes with comments her mom or editor have made about that particular section. But the author has also added some footnotes to give readers a broader context of what she is writing about. You will see this mostly when you reach the sections in which Ayser Salman writes of living in Saudi Arabia during her teen years. Or when she writes of her early childhood in Baghdad, in which she explains what it was like living in a country almost ready for Saddam Hussein. If you get a quick out of reading funny footnotes (*ahem* like me), then you'll most likely want to pick this memoir up... 💫 A detailed look into the inner-workings of the Salman family In this memoir, we meet not only Ayser but also the people who matter the most to her: her parents. There is obviously a very tight bond connecting Ayser and her parents, and so they make a lot of appearances in the book. Not all of them are positive (what teenager can say they have never thought ill of their parents?) but they're all heartwarming. You can so truly tell that this is a happy family in their own way. I loved the mother figure the most. She is the one who is ever present, either in the footnotes telling Ayser to not include excerpt A or B because "it would make you look bad," or in the actual chapters. This is a woman who loves her daughter more than anything and who would do anything for her. Ayser's father is also a very hilarious character. There's a point in the novel in which the author narrates her trip to Hawaii with her parents. They hadn't been out of the country much (except in the Middle East) and are two very funny characters together. But Ayser's dad's observation that "Hawaii comes from Arabic" really cracked me up. I loved seeing this man claw at the thinnest of evidences of a linguistic relationship between the two. For someone who has studied linguistics before, this was one of the funniest parts of the memoir. 💫 What's assimilation? Adapting to American culture As you might have noticed, there is a lot of content on this memoir about feeling like you belong and feeling hostility against your presence. Ayser, as an Immigrant from a Muslim Arabic country, experiences difficulties assimilating with American culture, despite having been born and mostly raised in the country. We see this happen not just when she is little and packs a lunch to take to school that is (worlds) different from what her friends take. We also see this in how people pronounce her name (incorrectly), in how people make fun of her for having hairs on her upper lip (which she describes as typically Iraqi), and in how people react when they learn she is Iraqi. I would say that this is the most ~serious~ part of the whole memoir, and Ayser doesn't dismiss the topic like she does other things in a funny way. She confronts what it's like to be Muslim Arabic in Ameria before and after the 9/11 attacks, and explains how she managed to get her own voice. 💫 Interesting account of what it's like working in the movie industry Ayser Salman moved to California to get involved in the movie industry, and she actually succeeded. In this memoir, she tells us how she got her role as a film editor and what her job consisted of. I have never really understood what movie editing or production entails, so these chapters were interesting in the sense that they showed me a world I had never paid attention to. Another thing I liked about these chapters was how the author doesn't speculate about the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Given that she worked there, some people might think that she knew him and knew of his actions. But Ayser flat out admits never having met the man and not wanting to take over the #metoo conversation. However, this isn't to say that she doesn't talk about being a woman (and specifically a Muslim Arabic woman) in the workplace. The last chapters of the memoir are a more serious insight into claiming your own space and your own voice, regardless of what others around you say. While they don't read like the rest of the memoir, they are a great addition to the collection. 💫 There is a lot to be taken from this memoir Since Ayser Salman wrote this memoir from her point of view, we get a lot of great cultural insight, both into the Iraq she lived in, into Saudi Arabia, and into America. As a person who never completely fit into any of these countries, whether because she didn't see herself as being from there or because others treated her like an outsider, her comments are especially remarkable. Her voice is so poignant and so spot on, that it's hard to disregard her observations. There is also a lot to be learned from this memoir in terms of how we treat people who are from another country. As I've mentioned before, the author experienced racism throughout different stages of her life, and she remarks feeling like she's on the outside looking in because the door was closed to her. This is an issue Ayser goes into depth about, and also a metaphor I found delightfully clear to anyone who has never experienced this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    DeAnna

    Twenty years ago, you had to search for memoirs written by Middle Eastern Americans. That changed after 9/11, when anyone remotely reminiscent of Arabic was thrust into the spotlight. Social media come along, and with that, a whole new playing field where anyone from any background could tell their stories. It wasn't vanity; it was our duty. [...] We were compelled to correct the narrative. Ayser Salman is a Muslim American who was born in Iraq, raised in Saudi Arabia and Kentucky, and has wo Twenty years ago, you had to search for memoirs written by Middle Eastern Americans. That changed after 9/11, when anyone remotely reminiscent of Arabic was thrust into the spotlight. Social media come along, and with that, a whole new playing field where anyone from any background could tell their stories. It wasn't vanity; it was our duty. [...] We were compelled to correct the narrative. Ayser Salman is a Muslim American who was born in Iraq, raised in Saudi Arabia and Kentucky, and has worked as a writer, producer, and editor in Hollywood for the past twenty years. In The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in, she recounts moments from her life. The subjects of most Salman's stories are only skin-deep, but a few do dig a little bit deeper. During the chapters dedicated to her years in college, which coincided with Desert Storm, Salman writes more earnestly about anti-Iraqi discrimination on a national and personal level, her own experiences with a crisis of identity, and also of becoming aware of her white-passing privilege. A girl in my Law of the Press class made an off-hand comment: "We should bomb those people." I remember thinking clearly: those people are my people. Sure, I hadn't been directly discriminated against, but the subtle microaggression hit hard. I wanted to punch her in the face, but at the same time, I was too nervous to speak up lest I be targeted for a hate crime. Salman was also employed as a freelance producer and editor by Miramax and The Weinstein Company for seventeen years during the DVD Boom. This period of her life was understandably significant, but not because of Harvey Weinstein himself. I should state right off: if you're looking for any personal gossip or insight to the Weinstein scandal, you won't find it here - mainly because I don't have any. No, during those particular years, while her career was taking off, Salman was also struggling with depression and panic attacks, as well as the stigma that came with it. I told no one about my emotional state, especially not my mom. Back then, it wasn't commonplace to talk openly about depression, especially not in Arab culture. Though she writes earnestly about things as heavy as depression and discrimination, Salman isn't bearing it all here. She keeps things refreshingly light, like dinner party conversation between acquaintances. The Wrong End of the Table is advertised as a "comic memoir," but it's actually more lighthearted than funny. And I'm perfectly fine with that. It the walks the line between a somber and inspirational read (Think: Becoming by Michelle Obama) and truthful but exaggerated life stories carefully crafted to make you laugh out loud (Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah). The stories are all rooted in honesty, even if regularly embellished for effect (though Salman always denotes when she stretches the truth, sometimes with more exaggeration). Salman easily entertains with her relatable tales of a being an outcast, while reminding the reader that this wasn't always caused by cultural and ethnic differences. Salman was social awkward growing up, like most of us were at some point, and all of us know too well that other kids can be both exceptionally observant of these differences and merciless in their reactions to them. The memoir truly is a send up to anyone who's ever felt ostracized for any reason. We were a weird group; but I was a weirdo surrounded by weirdos, which made me normal. [...] And I'm so appreciative of that time in my life when I made lifelong friends who allowed me the space to reset myself. During those years, I didn't have to try and be one of the cool kids. I was a cool kid.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    Ayser Salman’s memoir The Wrong End of the Table is a story of awkward childhood-teen antics and trying to figure out who you are when you have so many different cultures pulling you in different directions. Salman arrives in the U.S. with her family after they leave fascist Iraq in the 1980s. Figuring out who you are is no easy task and figuring out who you are as a Muslim, an Arab, an American, a woman, and an immigrant just feels like a lot of extra stress if you ask me. Salman, however, neve Ayser Salman’s memoir The Wrong End of the Table is a story of awkward childhood-teen antics and trying to figure out who you are when you have so many different cultures pulling you in different directions. Salman arrives in the U.S. with her family after they leave fascist Iraq in the 1980s. Figuring out who you are is no easy task and figuring out who you are as a Muslim, an Arab, an American, a woman, and an immigrant just feels like a lot of extra stress if you ask me. Salman, however, never bemoans her fate and through every twist and turn she finds a way to love, live, and learn from her multifaceted upbringing. Throughout Salman’s memoir you see the juxtaposition between her own experiences growing up as an immigrant child in the U.S. and her parents experiences who obviously came to America as adults. I don’t know which experience is harder, but suffice to say that immigration is just hard. My husband is Brazilian, I am Australian, and we live in Switzerland, so I can only attest to the struggles and frustrations you have when trying to figure out new lands, languages, and cultures. In some ways, I do wonder if immigrating as a kid has its positives as young children can adapt a bit easier to new things around them. As Salman points out, her parents still had a thick accent and probably struggled a lot more to align their Iraqi culture with American culture than she, as a child, did. One of the themes throughout Salman’s memoir is her often hilarious struggles to find a balance between her different identities. She talks of a time before ‘intersectional’ feminism and what it was like to feel like you had to pick a side. She brings up white-passing, which is something that many Arabs can do, and the struggles of navigating life with other minorities. The catalyst for her life and how she is perceived by the world is definitely the 11th of September 2001. This event changed the world and how we live and travel in it. Furthermore, as a Muslim Arab the rise of Islamophobia only seemed to exponentially increase after this date. Again, it is this navigating of inbetweenness that Salman struggles with throughout her life. Yet she does it with a lot of laughs and fun. Her relationship with her parents (see all of her footnotes) is just hilarious. The universality of her relationship with them reinforces that love and family transcend cultures. We are at the core, humans. Salman’s memoir is an important addition to the cannon of Arab American literature in the way that it offers new insights into love, dating, and identity. Her writing is extremely honest and heartfelt and I would describe her style as Nora-Ephron-esque. In between the laughs there are some really hard truths about being a Muslim Arab American in the U.S. today and I think it is this balance of comedy and heartfelt truth that will win over any reader. What books by Arab Americans have you read? Will you be picking up Salman’s memoir March 5th, 2019? As always, share the reading love. NOTE: This novel was was accessed through Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for review purposes. Expected publication is 5th March 2019.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kibkabe

    "The Wrong End of the Table" by Ayser Salman is a funny outlook on American life via the eyes of an Iraqi Muslim transplant. It's very light as in mostly the reader gets a view of dating obstacles rather than visits to the mosque, but the humor is well-constructed and the story is relatable. The author moves to Ohio from Iraq at the age of 3 with eventually relocating to Kentucky then Saudi Arabia then back to Kentucky, where she wrestles with adolescence. Some of the events chosen to be highligh "The Wrong End of the Table" by Ayser Salman is a funny outlook on American life via the eyes of an Iraqi Muslim transplant. It's very light as in mostly the reader gets a view of dating obstacles rather than visits to the mosque, but the humor is well-constructed and the story is relatable. The author moves to Ohio from Iraq at the age of 3 with eventually relocating to Kentucky then Saudi Arabia then back to Kentucky, where she wrestles with adolescence. Some of the events chosen to be highlighted are intriguing with her stint living in Saudi Arabia and connecting with a friend through the "Xanadu" soundtrack. Or how another friend there worked to escape the restrictive country to her mother who lived in the U.S. The Saudi Arabia chapters stick out since it's rare to hear what it was like to grow up as a girl there in the 1980s, especially one who had come from America. Another event that stuck out was when the author lived in the college dorm in Kentucky and was accused by her African-American roommate's cousin of racism over a Prince poster. It shows the growth during that young adult period when clashing with different people from different backgrounds. Then some of the events were questionable to be plucked out for a memoir like her preschool experience of seeing sexual touching, which didn't really open to another storyline though emphasized how America would be very different from Iraq. It fit with the theme of the story of not understanding what was going on while trying to be in the know, but it was awkward. At the end, she dives into dating in her 40s, which highlights multiple men who don't really make an imprint in her life yet they're mentioned. Overall, it's a light and funny memoir. I waited for moments such as her experiences jumping to so many different places and finding a mosque since her Muslim identity is in the title and a part of the book's marketing, but it's somewhat missing. The footnotes on almost every page may sound annoying, but they're hilarious. To sum the memoir up would be it's a collection of essays of experiences that may not be as life-defining but can induce laughs.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tangled in Text

    I will never look at footnotes the same again. I LOVED the humor and authenticity of The Wrong End of the Table and the quirky, hilarious subtext of the footnotes from the publisher making comments to her mother needing her to include a disclaimer on a particular family story. I connected immediately with the longing to belong in the ever-present cliques of our youth and related to her many attempts to get a foot in the door in already seemingly solid friendship circles and in all aspects of lif I will never look at footnotes the same again. I LOVED the humor and authenticity of The Wrong End of the Table and the quirky, hilarious subtext of the footnotes from the publisher making comments to her mother needing her to include a disclaimer on a particular family story. I connected immediately with the longing to belong in the ever-present cliques of our youth and related to her many attempts to get a foot in the door in already seemingly solid friendship circles and in all aspects of life. The Wrong End of the Table was a joy to read in its entirety, getting a glimpse inside this unique nomad experience. Ayser was constantly moving to remote locations that had polar opposite cultures and dynamics from a small town in the US to Saudi Arabia and back. It was interesting to witness how each impacted her differently during her different life stages. Her changing priorities as she grew up creating a unique perspective at each new location. For example, she might have been able to appreciate the all girls school in Saudi Arabia when she was still too young to care for the opposite sex, but then when she got hurt she realized the annoyance of her mom having to call a taxi to take them to the hospital because women couldn't drive in that country and her father was at work. Ayser is extremely self-reflective and continuously displayed a complete picture making you feel like you were a part of her story. This piece of the book became my favorite because even in this particular scenario she found joy in the quality time that was created because her dad now had to drive her back and forth to the multiple follow up checkups soon after her accident. I took this book along with a dozen others on my latest vacation and this one had me skipping an excursion or two in order to continuing reading. It became my favorite by far. It was sincere, entertaining, and transported me all over the world. Ayser poured out her heart and revealed her secret dreams, her struggles, some advice not to lie and drive, and much more!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Monica Mac

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book (although the footnotes were distracting - not the content, just the format, just saying). Ayser is a lady who was born in Iraq, came to the US when she was a toddler, went to Saudi Arabia when she was a pre-teen and then came back to the US, where she has lived ever since. She is a modern Muslim woman who has tried to make sense of her world, even though there were times when she didn't feel like she fitted in. As a fellow first generation person, there were a lot I thoroughly enjoyed this book (although the footnotes were distracting - not the content, just the format, just saying). Ayser is a lady who was born in Iraq, came to the US when she was a toddler, went to Saudi Arabia when she was a pre-teen and then came back to the US, where she has lived ever since. She is a modern Muslim woman who has tried to make sense of her world, even though there were times when she didn't feel like she fitted in. As a fellow first generation person, there were a lot of things in this book which I could relate to. Pickled turnips versus pickled herring....yep!! Both foods are an acquired taste (never tried pickled turnips but the thought of pickled herring makes my mouth water), but if that is a part of your culture, that is that. I found myself saying "me too" quite a bit actually, even though I live in Australia and am not Muslim - but there is something about being the new kid on the block, over and over again, and being SO different to others around you. To missing the subtle social cues that others take for granted, and so on. Trying to straddle two very different worlds and not really fitting in with either one all that well, but eventually not caring so much. This was a great read and if you are a child of immigrants, no matter where your parents are from, I think you will be able to relate. I really liked Ayser, and thought she was very brave documenting so much of her life. The overall feel is that she became very comfortable in her own skin and I really liked that. The phone calls with her parents were hilarious and so relatable! The parts of the book which were set in Saudi Arabia were a real eye-opener to me and made me happy not to have to live under such strict rules. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars from me :) Thank you to NetGalley and Skyhorse.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Niamh

    Forget the 'mostly' comic part of this title- this memoir is damn funny and with a big heart. I suspect it's much like the author herself. At its core, 'The Wrong End of the Table' examines a life as an Arab-American woman, exploring Salman's childhood moving between countries and states and attempting to fit into every culture that she comes across. It's about romance and parents and politics and finding yourself and almost everything in between. One of the brilliant things about this book is h Forget the 'mostly' comic part of this title- this memoir is damn funny and with a big heart. I suspect it's much like the author herself. At its core, 'The Wrong End of the Table' examines a life as an Arab-American woman, exploring Salman's childhood moving between countries and states and attempting to fit into every culture that she comes across. It's about romance and parents and politics and finding yourself and almost everything in between. One of the brilliant things about this book is how Salman manages to write where everyone can find a connectivity point. Perhaps it's not the diaspora of the Iraq-American girl, but the youthful woman in a strict family who was attempting to rebel by meeting boys or going to the movies. Maybe it's the struggle to find your identity in the education system. Maybe, like me, it's realising that filmmaking is the thing you're supposed to and you feel like this is the moment. This collection of essays is a wide open book (pun intended) and lets you look into this incredible woman's life, one hilarious anecdote at a time. Salman has had the most remarkable life- to spending time in Iraq during the fascist regime of Saddam Hussein, to attending school in both Saudi Arabia and Kentucky, to college and even working for Harvey Weinstein. That's an interesting chapter. She's a natural writer with skill and wit in every sentence whether she's talking about politics or parents. I loved how she spoke candidly about her failures and her issues, but framed them with an innate optimism. This is a voice that we rarely hear in the world of literature or even personal essays. I found her letter to President Trump particularly poignant. There are two drafts and the first is a mutiny of curse words. An excellent memoir by a sorely mis-represented voice.

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