I was a guest at my friend Chris’s Arab-American Lit Class at UT this afternoon. It was such a cool experience, sitting there with bright, interesting students and hearing and answering their questions. One of the most surreal moments came before the visit, when I was sitting at lunch with Chris and looked over at their papers: papers about my work. One student had a cool freudian essay about my protagonists’ experiences with their fathers. Many of the essays brought up interesting stuff I’d not noticed about my work, and a couple of them picked up on little things I’d planted in the stories. One student noticed that “Lost in Freakin’ Yonkers” is a reversal of sorts of Neil Simon’s play ( in which two Jewish boys get exiled by their father to Yonkers (VS one Arab girl with identity issues being exiled there by her dad)- and that the two works examine similar themes: self, family, survival. Nice discussion in class about fiction, and my take on autobiographical writing and masks and identity and gender and religion. I got to talk to them about self-censorship (none), za’atar burgers, humor and voice. I enjoyed myself immensely.