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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Summer 2019

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Call Me American
A Memoir
By (author): Abdi Nor Iftin
9780525433026 Paperback, Trade English General Trade BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs May 07, 2019
$22.00 CAD
Active 5.2 x 8 x 0.7 in 320 pages Vintage
The incredible true story of a boy living in war-torn Somalia who escapes to America—first by way of the movies; years later, through a miraculous green card.

Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop artists like Michael Jackson and watching films starring action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches online, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Abdi was left with no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee.

In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America—filled with twists and turns and a harrowing sequence of events that nearly stranded him in Nairobi—did not come easily. Now a proud resident of Maine, on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why western democracies still beckon to those looking to make a better life.

BOOK FOR OUR TIMES: As a refugee who is making a successful life in America, Abdi is a shining example of what America means to so many people around the world and a reminder of why we need to be cognizant of our role in the international community.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Abdi has been invited to the UN multiple times to speak about refugee and immigration issues. He currently works as an interpreter helping Somali immigrants make the transition to a very different life in Maine. Abdi is also an experienced radio journalist and is hugely charismatic. His story is full of horrifyingly brutal experiences during the war and under the Islamists, but his spirit is unbreakable and he is truly an inspirational figure.

RADIO AND INTERNET EXPOSURE: Abdi’s story of getting his visa was featured on This American Life and got a tremendous response. Ira Glass and his crew are huge fans of Abdi and have rebroadcasted the episode. Abdi also has connections with print and online journalists, and wrote a series of dispatches for NPR.

AUDIENCE: This is a perfect book for fiction and non-fiction lovers alike. Great for fans of A Long Way Gone, Outcasts United, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and Enrique’s Journey—or novels like What Is the What, Exit West, The Refugees, and Little Bee.

Abdi Nor Iftin currently lives in Portland, Maine, where he works as an interpreter for Somalis who have immigrated to the state. Abdi was accepted to the University of Southern Maine, where he will be studying political science.

Author Residence: Portland, ME

Author Hometown: Mogadishu, Somalia

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Author Social Media: Facebook.com/abdi.iftin; Twitter: @Abdi_Iftin

“Told simply and well, Iftin’s story explains the incredible bravery and hope necessary to live in the crosshairs of war and to find a way out.”—The New York Journal of Books

“Absolutely remarkable…as compelling as a novel…. An essential immigrant story, one that is enlightening and immediate.”—Booklist (starred review)

“[A] wrenching yet hopeful autobiography…. Iftin’s extraordinary saga is not just a journey of self-advancement but a quest to break free from ethnic and sectarian hatreds.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A searing memoir…that impressively remains upbeat, highly inspiring, and always educational.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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