TSR Contributor Massoud Hayoun’s debut memoir

WHEN WE WERE ARABS wonderfully braids cultural history, memoir, poetics, and politics into a completely unexpected but necessary artistic intervention destined to obliterate our brittle understandings of what is Jewish, Arab, and radically loving. The book is as good as it is important.
The very essence of this book is a subversion of what is miserable and a triumph of justice, love, and family. I invite readers to rejoice with me, even if some of the immediate politics in the book are heavy. What’s more, I invite them to undertake the simultaneously sorrowful and celebratory work of decolonizing their concepts of their own ethnicities and manmade places in the world.

Summer/Fall 2019 contributor and Frank McCourt Memoir Contest second prize winner, Massoud Hayoun, has a debut memoir out this summer.

In When We Were Arabs, Hayoun brings alive the worlds of his grandparents, vividly shattering our contemporary understanding of what makes an Arab, what makes a Jew, and how we draw the lines over which we do battle. When We Were Arabs seeks to reclaim a worldly, nuanced Arab identity—and to recall a time before ethnic identity was mangled for political ends.

A Jewish Family’s Forgotten History
by Massoud Hayoun

Pub. Date: June 25, 2019

Massoud Hayoun’s essay, “Urumqi mon amour,” was published in the Summer/Fall 2019 issue of TSR and is available to read here.

Emily Gilbert