A moving and emotional tale of two brothers each trying to survive in the Syrian city of their birth as well as where life will take them. The author wove the tale between and through the brothers as they each experienced different situations but at the same time remain connected to each other and Raqqa, the city that has been their core for generations. An exploration of changes and how things remain the same. This is a tale of courage told not as a praise but as a need to keep moving forward and surviving in situations that most would find unbearable.
A delightful surprise from traditional publisher Random House and I thank them for reaching out. Book Release – July 21, 2020 – Get it here!.
Crossing years and continents, the harrowing story of the road to reunion for two Syrian brothers who—despite a homeland at war and an ocean between them—hold fast to the bonds of family.
The Alkasem brothers, Riyad and Bashar, spend their childhood in Raqqa, the Syrian city that would later become the capital of ISIS. As a teenager in the 1980s, Riyad witnesses the devastating aftermath of the Hama massacre—an atrocity that the Hafez al-Assad regime commits upon its people. Wanting to expand his notion of government and justice, Riyad moves to the United States to study law, but his plans are derailed and he eventually falls in love with a Southern belle. They move to a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, where they raise two sons and where Riyad opens a restaurant—Café Rakka—cooking the food his grandmother used to make. But he finds himself confronted with the darker side of American freedoms: the hardscrabble life of a newly arrived immigrant, enduring bigotry, poverty, and loneliness. Years pass, and at the height of Syria’s civil war, fearing for his family’s safety halfway across the world, he risks his own life by making a dangerous trip back to Raqqa.
Bashar, meanwhile, in Syria. After his older brother moves to America, Bashar embarks on a brilliant legal career under the same corrupt Assad government that Riyad despises. Reluctant to abandon his comfortable (albeit conflicted) life, he fails to perceive the threat of ISIS until it’s nearly too late.
The Road from Raqqa brings us into the lives of two brothers bound by their love for each other and for the war-ravaged city they call home. It’s about a family caught in the middle of the most significant global events of the new millennium, America’s fraught but hopeful relationship to its own immigrants, and the toll of dictatorship and war on everyday families. It’s a book that captures all the desperation, tenacity, and hope that come with the revelation that we can find home in one another when the lands of our forefathers fail us.