A little girl, whose father is arrested repeatedly for following Mosaddeq, waits for him to come home.
An old woman survives waves of aggression, bullets, bombardments and scorpions only for her eventual death to go nearly unmarked in the wake of the NATO bombings.
A woman who desperately wants to return to her son is the sole survivor of a drone attack on a wedding bus in North Waziristan.
A guard must escort a fired miner home to make sure his potential suicide isn’t deemed the responsibility of the business, and finds himself witnessing an argument about whether it was the Americans or the Belgians who killed Patrice Lumumba.
Edited by Ra Page and Orsola Casagrande, Comma Press’s new collection, The American Way, reveals the much-neglected histories and human cost of US intervention across the world. Each short story is based around a key historical event, from the Iranian coup d’etat in 1953, to drone bombings in Pakistan, imagining the life of a fictional person who is affected by this event. At the end of each story, a historian or expert explains the historical moment in full - and recommends a helpful and short reading list.
One of the stories that stuck with me was written by Bina Shah, a Pakistani writer and columnist. Zarghuna, a young woman, sits in a bus heading to a family wedding. She is with many members of her family, and since there have been no drone attacks recently, they think it will be safe to travel. As Zarghuna contemplates the confines in which her life exists, first that of the political situation in her village, then that of her family, and finally the wreckage of the bus after a drone strike, it is thoughts of returning to her child that drive her towards survival. This is a nuanced story, deftly and lightly touching upon the many nested layers of confinement in which Zarghuna lives, giving her story a fullness that is not taken into account by foreign political and military decisions that end the lives of so many so easily.
I look forwards to talking about the story above and more, with Bina Shah, Ra Page, and Orsola Casagrande, in the book launch of The American Way, 23rd June 2021 at 7pm. You can book your tickets here.
With Trump out of office and Biden already approving millions of dollars of arms sales, this timely book reminds us of the price of intervention.
Visionary Comma Press continue to do a stellar job bringing us the work of authors from all around the world, often from languages and countries previously lacking representation on English-language bookshelves. If you fancy reading whatever else is available in English by the authors in 'The American Way' (from Comma and other publishers), look no further than the list below.