Publishers Weekly Rave Review of “Ramadan Blues”: Short Story by Wajahat Ali

“Ramadan Blues” can be read here:

Pow Wow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience—Short Fiction From Then to Now
Edited by Ishmael Reed and Carla Blank. Da Capo, $19.95 (503p) ISBN 9781568583426
With help from writers such as Benjamin Franklin, Grace Paley and Wanda Coleman, novelist/poet/essayist Reed puts together a captivating, multifarious look at the American experience through its short fiction (a “cousin” to his lauded poetry anthology From Totems to Hip-Hop). From the ins and outs of a young Latino’s struggle in an Anglo-dominated Catholic school (Nash Candelaria’s “The Day the Cisco Kid Shot John Wayne”) to Haight Street during the Summer of Love (“Wormwood” by Conyus), Reed’s selections will draw readers into American cities, suburbs, prairies and mountains with vivid, precise, at times documentary description and bold, personal questions of American identity and purpose. At the same time, the overwhelming role of love, loss, and growth can render them almost allegorical; a perfect example is Wajahat Ali’s “Ramadan Blues,” in which a young boy is first introduced to the traditional holiday fast. The boy’s fear and self-deprecation over his meager battle with hunger balance the personal detail and honesty of the autobiographical with the sweep of America’s religious legacy. A “gathering of voices from the different American tribes,” this highly varied collection doesn’t neglect important works from the likes of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, George S. Schuyler, Gertrude Stein and Mark Twain. (Feb.)

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