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The Wrong End of the Table  By  cover art

The Wrong End of the Table

By: Ayser Salman,Reza Aslan - foreword
Narrated by: Ayser Salman,Assaf Cohen
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Publisher's Summary

An Immigrant Love-Hate Story of What it Means to Be American 

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 witnesses a blowjob at pre-kindergarten daycare, 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.

©2019 Ayser Salman (P)2018 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Author-narrator Ayser Salman regales listeners with stories of her misfit childhood as an Iraqi immigrant in America's Midwest. She looks back with humor at the ups and downs of being the odd one out most of the time in school. As narrator, Salman sets a rapid pace that carries listeners along from pre-Saddam Hussein Baghdad to day care in Louisville, Kentucky. She recounts every social and cultural misunderstanding with honesty and grace that further draw listeners in. This is an unflinching examination of the complex mix that is childhood, identity, and coming of age in America. Salman narrates these often comic intersections with the warmth of someone confiding to her close friends. By the end of the book, listeners may wish they were." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Wrong End of the Table

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Not what I was looking for

As an Iraqi-American, I wish this book took the opportunity to discuss the political aspects of what brought the author to America, as well as the impacts America has had on Iraq since she left. Does she visit? How is her family there? Instead most of the book is about the author's dating life. The few political points that are made, which are about Trump, are off-base since we've since seen how damaging he was. While I realize this book is meant to be comedic, it can still have laughs while digging into Iraq's history. I was looking for more political commentary and less about assimilating into a country that has done so much damage to the Middle East. There were also missed opportunities to tackle homophobia and trans misogyny in this book that were frustrating to listen to. The author needs to get woke to LGBTQ+ issues... and then rethink the situation with the Prince poster.

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Wonderful wonderful wonderful

I loved the style and the stories. Very relatable. Gave me good laughs, good feelings, good perspectives, and best of all, good memories

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Educational and fun

As a Russian immigrant with Arabic culture exposure, I truly enjoyed re-experiencing my past and feeling deeply for the writer’s pride to be an American.

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Entertaining and honest

Really enjoyed it! As an immigrant myself it was super relatable and help me to have a better perspective about being at the wrong (right) end if the table 😊