A GOOD COUNTRY
A Good Country: My Life in Twelve Towns and the Devastating Battle for a White America is the book that happened when I was at the end of my rope. I had been a social justice activist and lawyer my whole adult life, at least partly driven by gratitude at the life America gave my parents when they migrated from Pakistan, partly by a belief in its ideals, and partly by the belief that realizing those ideals was always just around the bend. I loved folk music, unions, and road trips.
But I’d lived in twelve towns across the country, and I’d seen a lot of things that challenged my optimism. In 2015, I had two sweet preschoolers, Trump was campaigning on the Muslim ban, and my kindergartener got told to not say she was Muslim at school. So, I went back over everywhere I’d been and everything I’d seen, paying special attention to the color lines and how they got there. As I wrote it all down, I found that my country had an unbroken and often unexamined legacy of forcing the migrations of Brown and Black people out of town, across the country, sometimes out of the country altogether. Different groups of people, sometimes pushed out by the state, sometimes by private actors, but a lot of repeating strategies: separating families, banning immigrants, forcing labor, taking people’s land and shutting them away.
Each chapter of the book is set in a different place, telling some about my life there, tripping over the color line, and then diving into the history of how the lines got there. The book is the story of how I found myself in America, why I had to pack up my family and leave anyway, and a little bit about where I’ve landed and what it’s taught me.
MORE ADVANCE PRAISE FOR A GOOD COUNTRY
"Both memoir and historical narrative, A Good Country is an American story about an American dream reserved for White people living on stolen land. Sometimes the journey to fighting oppression means escaping from an inhospitable if not burning house: Sofia Ali-Khan has arrived at the right time." -DAVID A. LOVE, JD, professor, journalist, and contributing author to the New York Times bestseller Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019
"A stunning and beautiful memoir of the author's experience as a Muslim woman in a post 9/11 America, A Good Country interweaves the personal and the political into an enthralling illumination of how history persists to shape present-day relations."
-LISA STAMPNITZKY, PhD, lecturer in politics at the University of Sheffield and author of Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented "Terrorism"
"Compelling, enjoyable, engaging, and so full of purpose and covinction...an important study of the race-avoidant instinct in this deeply raced nation. Sofia Ali-Khan's A Good Country beautifully weaves together history and personal narrative as it unwinds the classic immigrant belief in the American dream." -R. CIELO CRUZ, southern racial justice activist, educator, and writer, and former vice president of Race Forward
“Readers of this powerful memoir will benefit from Ali-Khan’s brave soul-searching, comprehensive research, and beautiful storytelling.” -PRISCILLA WARNER, New York Times bestselling author of The Faith Club