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Love me more than anything in the world: stories about belonging
Am I writing this book for you? So that you can understand what came before you?
So that you can get a glimpse into a distant, long gone world that your parents came from? Do you even want to know about it? Do you need that heavy baggage, the baggage that your mother keeps dragging through her life, without ever finding a way of putting it down, if only for a second?
Or am I writing it for an anonymous American reader who has barely heard of me, let alone the country of my birth? Am I writing it as a warning? Am I trying to say: “I told you so?” And do I want to add (without daring to say it out loud): “… but you didn’t listen?”
Or am I writing it for myself, to myself? Why? Is it to “understand myself better” by trying to detect the hidden “story” in the scattered, illogical, messy narrative of my life?
And while I’ve been trying to answer these unanswerable questions, toiling over words in a language that is not mine (although I audaciously pretend it is), something very strange has happened: you have grown up. Not only that: America has become a different country, a country ominously similar to the place we once left in horror and despair. There is no doubt anymore that the forces that chased us out of our own homes have won a global victory. We fought those forces once. Now we feel tired. We are exhausted by repetition.
And, strangely enough, this book is becoming a different book. It is no longer a book of memories of a distant place and a distant time. It is becoming something very different: a plea to America and the world.