Looking Both Ways is a collection of interlinked essays that explores family, language, politics, identity, and culture, often with a touch of humor. These essays move across time and space, beginning in Egypt and crossing the ocean to follow the author’s travels and the challenges of adapting to American culture and creating a family in her new world.
The collection is divided into four sections. “Making Home,” centers on the notion of home, beginning in Egypt in the 1960s and moving toward the U.S. “In Transit,” examines the connection between place and identity. “With Caution,” engages with the idea of danger, highlighting issues related to being Arab in America. “Time Difference,” begins with the 2011 Egyptian Uprising and delves into the blurring of cultural experience between Egypt and the U.S.
From recounting her attempt to retrieve a stolen nativity camel to relaying her sense of cultural indignation when her husband tells her to follow a recipe, these essays use humor to dive deeper into the experience of what it means to live as an Egyptian in the United States. Other essays confront more difficult topics, such as being called “Osama Bin Laden” by some young boys the day after Bin Laden was killed or experiencing the 2011 Egyptian revolution while living in America.
Together, these essays create the impression of a memoir as they weave together to reflect the larger narrative of immigration. This book explores culture, identity, and displacement, offering a unique vision into the Arab American immigrant experience.