Thursday 21 April 2022


Managed to avoid all bad weather patches and had a great time talking shop with my co-driver and fellow historian, Nathan Ron, who came all the way from #Israel to join me on this cross-country trip. Here are a few photos he took on the way:

Saguaro in Tucson

More pics from Tucson

And one from the Bernheim Arboretum


Tuesday 5 April 2022


Akhtar comes to grips with the meaning of being a Muslim in America. He asks the question: How do you become an American? Given the weighty question, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t come up with a clear-cut answer. Home Elegies is billed as a novel, but is it fiction or autobiographical? Akhtar himself admits it is difficult to translate experience into art.


On skin color

I felt a visceral disgust for the sickly tints of the white skin I saw everywhere around me, the blanched arms and legs, faces the color of paste, flesh devoid of warmth or human glow. He came to think of his own non-white skin as surpassingly strange.


On politics

Akhtar criticizes Democrats and Republicans. He scoffs both at Obama and Trump.


Was it a good thing that Obama, a black intellectual, was elected to the office of president? No, his concern for the country was marred by his superciliousness…[he]gloried in his pop-culture celebrity while bemoaning a system whose political dysfunctions prevented him from leading.


Was Trump the better choice? No, he just mirrored the national mood – nasty, brutish, nihilistic. He was an unapologetically racist real estate magnate embodying the rise of white property rights; a self-absorbed idiot epitomizing the rampant social self-obsession and narcissism that was making us all stupider by the day; greed and corruption…


Is this Akhtar speaking or his protagonist? You figure it out.