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Even when we leave them, our cities never leave us. After her Dutch mother’s death, Sorayya Khan confronts her grief by revisiting their relationship, her parents’ lives, and her own Pakistani-Dutch heritage in a multicultural memoir that unfolds over seven cities and three continents. We Take Our Cities with Us ushers us from Khan’s childhood independence forged at her grandparents’ home in Lahore; to her adolescence in Pakistan’s new capital, Islamabad; to Syracuse and Ithaca, New York, where Khan finds her footing as the mother of young, brown sons in post-9/11 America; to her birthplace, Vienna, where her parents die; and finally to Amsterdam and Maastricht, the cities of her mother’s conflicted youth. In Khan’s gripping telling of her immigrant experience, she shows us what it is to raise children and lose parents in worlds other than your own. Drawing on family history, geopolitics, and art in this stunning story of loss, identity, and rediscovery, Khan beautifully illuminates the complexities of our evolving global world and its most important constant: love.
Sorayya Khan is the author of We Take Our Cities with Us: A Memoir and three novels: Noor, Five Queen's Road, and City of Spies.
Moderator Claire Messud, a novelist and literary critic, has published seven works of fiction, including The Emperor's Children, The Woman Upstairs, and The Burning Girl, and a book of essays, Kant's Little Prussian Head & Other Reasons Why I Write. She writes a books column for Harper's magazine, teaches creative writing at Harvard University, and lives in Cambridge, MA.