Jewish Journal

From ‘Children of Dust’ we are born

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 13, 2009 | 12:14 pm

Just in time for Friday prayers comes Ali Eteraz’s “Children of Dust,” a memoir about life in Pakistan and the Dirty South. Eteraz, a friend who followed the opposite career path, has been getting a good deal of attention for his first book. (Hopefully, now he’ll be able to get back to blogging.) Here’s what The Washington Post had to say:

Eteraz grew up attending a madrassa in rural Pakistan, where he spent his days memorizing the Koran and enduring harsh beatings for his mistakes. When his family relocated to Alabama during his adolescence, he struggled to fit in with his peers while adhering to the strict religious practices his family enforced. “I was too embarrassed to admit to non-Muslims that it was Islam—archaic, anachronistic, exotic Islam—that controlled me,” Eteraz writes. “Admitting that would lead me to be viewed as an outsider—and I wanted nothing more than to be American.”


Amid all the soul-searching, Eteraz manages to amusingly describe his teenage antics and poke some fun at himself for all the superficial ways he tried to make friends envy him for his piety. These honest details make his story even more compelling.

“Children of Dust” also got blurbed in O—that’s Oprah’s magazine—and Eteraz appeared last week on “Fresh Air.” Definitely living the dream.

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