Academic journal article The Midwest Quarterly

Just Call Me Aziz

Academic journal article The Midwest Quarterly

Just Call Me Aziz

Article excerpt

My Palestinian father immigrated from Jerusalem as a scholarship student to the American Midwest in 1951. After attending universities in Kansas, and meeting and marrying my mother in Topeka, they moved to St. Louis, her hometown, for 15 years. He was smart, careful with language, and deeply engaging. His life as a journalist and a public speaker, and his resilient belief in dialogue, mutual respect and understanding, was always my primary guide. He suffered many frustrations and disappointments beyond his initial sorrow over the loss of his childhood home, community and country--including a final long struggle with illness--but remained a cheerful optimist--most of the time. Nevertheless, I find sentences in my own notebooks such as, "The sadness of my father is a land mass under water." He continued writing even in the dialysis chair and completed a yet-unpublished children's book about washing the blood, and a final memoir, Does the Land Remember Me?--A Memoir of Palestine (University of Syracuse Press, 2007). Many incomplete notebooks from different periods of his life keep surfacing, some in Arabic, most in English, including a surprising scrapbook containing dozens of his letters to editors printed in American newspapers in the early '50's and a letter in response to one of his own, from Eleanor Roosevelt. …

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