cover image We Take Our Cities with Us: A Memoir

We Take Our Cities with Us: A Memoir

Sorayya Khan. Mad Creek, $19.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-8142-5848-4

In this elegiac family saga, novelist Khan (City of Spies) interweaves pages from her own life story with that of her late Dutch mother, who married a Pakistani man and began their family in Austria, “a country that was neither hers nor his... where my parents had been happiest together.” In the early 1970s, her parents moved their young family to Islamabad, where Khan grew up with a sense of straddling worlds, a feeling that reemerged when she relocated to the United States in 1979 to attend college. Until 9/11, she writes, few of the people she met had ever heard of the country where she spent her childhood. As she recounts in lucid prose pursuing her education, meeting her husband, and raising brown-skinned sons in the aftermath of 9/11 (“My truth of color and country is complicated. Color is a fact for my American-born children”), Khan contemplates the paths her mother took in love, expatriation, and raising a multiethnic family abroad. Sifting through the letters and photos her mother left in the wake of her death, she pieces together traces of her hopes and heartaches: “Her map is mine, even as I make my own.” Elegant and richly remembered, this offers a poignant tribute to the complex beauty of inherited histories. (Oct.)