‘Son of Elsewhere’ Recounts Life as a Young Immigrant

‘Son of Elsewhere’ Recounts Life as a Young Immigrant

By The New York Times

The Book Review

Friday, 15 July

In “Son of Elsewhere,” Elamin Abdelmahmoud writes about growing up in Canada after moving there from Sudan when he was 12. On this week’s podcast, he talks about that experience, including his first interactions with his new peers.

“This is not a story of bigotry, this is not a story of a classic playground bully,” Abdelmahmoud says. “Most of the demons I was wrestling with in this book were actually returning to the feelings of me needing to put certain parts of my identity on the shelf. Because sometimes you don’t really have to wait for other people to reduce you, you can do that to yourself. So I came to Canada and as I was trying to fit in, for me one of the things that became obvious fairly quickly was: I don’t want to stand out. I don’t want the attention of being the new kid, the immigrant kid. I don’t want to be different.”

The investigative journalist and author Sally Denton visits the podcast to discuss her new book, “The Colony: Faith and Blood in a Promised Land,” which takes readers across the border to a Mormon sect in Mexico. Denton says the idea for the book came to her in 2019, after she saw news of gunmen opening fire on a caravan of three cars from a Mormon community, killing three women and six children.

“When I learned of this incident, it just struck me immediately as: There was more to this story,” Denton says. “This was not a case of mistaken identity, it wasn’t a case of people being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This was a group of women and children intentionally targeted in the most brutal and heinous way. And I was initially really moved by the tragedy, and thought it would be really important to figure out what was going on. And my main impetus was really: Why were these women and children traveling alone on one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Where were the men? Why were they unarmed, why were they unescorted?”

Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter talks about the growing number of independent bookstores and their increased diversity; and Alexandra Jacobs and Jennifer Szalai talk about books they’ve recently reviewed.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“Why We Did It” by Tim Miller

“Hollywood Ending” by Ken Auletta

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to books@nytimes.com.

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