Aziz's story is a story that is common to many but one that is rarely told. It is the story of growing up the child of immigrants and trying to progress in a society where the realities of racism and xenophobia are all too obvious. It gives voice to the experience of finding oneself caught between worlds and the concomitant feelings of shame, insecurity and powerlessness that this can engender. As he describes it, he found himself ‘a hyphenated man’ struggling to create an identity that fused East and West.
Brown Boy is a hugely important and desperately needed book, which asks the most important questions and answers them in a way that is sometimes uncomfortable but always incredibly stimulating. Like Richard Wright's Black Boy, from which it draws inspiration, Brown Boy will be read for years to come. It is an enormously significant contribution to the contemporary debate around race and identity, and a work of deep literary sensitivity that will stand the test of time.
Omer Aziz is a lawyer, writer, and former foreign policy advisor in the administration of the Canadian Prime Minister. He was born to working-class parents of Pakistani origin in Toronto, Canada, and with the help of scholarships, became the first in his family to go to college in the West, later studying in Paris, at Cambridge University, and Yale Law School. Aziz has clerked for the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria and served as a foreign policy advisor in the government of Justin Trudeau. He has held residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell and has written for TheNew York Times, The Atlantic, New York magazine, TheWashington Post, The New Republic, and many other publications. He was most recently a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University. Brown Boy is his first book.
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