by Daniel Khalastchi
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
Paper: 978-0-299-33574-8
Library of Congress Classification PS3611.H33A83 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

Daniel Khalastchi's third collection provides an uncompromising exploration into the political and societal disturbances facing America today. Electioneering, lack of affordable health care, the increase in mass shootings, and the continued fight for equal rights are juxtaposed against an unlikely sense of hope and optimism. Lurking behind each page is the ever-present issue of immigration, with specific focus on the escape of the author's father from Iraq and the pressures linked to living as an Arab Jew in the middle of the United States.

Through unnerving gallows humor and radical honesty, these poems redefine the American experience by asking the reader to consider what it means to live in the shadow of a perceived sense of freedom and to have faith when believing feels hopeless. Khalastchi's perspective as an Iraqi Jewish American brings sharp focus to the holistic uncertainties of religion, politics, assimilation, illness, love, and loss—with absurd, visceral, and wry acclaim.
I type into

the internet your high school
and find rubble. Your daughter

has the flu. We are sick
with disappointment but

everyone is fine.
—Excerpt from "First Generation: Our Escape"

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