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The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  4,181 ratings  ·  161 reviews
An Immigrant Love-Hate Story of What it Means to Be American. "A rare voice that is both relatable and unafraid to examine the complexities of her American identity.—Reza Aslan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Skyhorse
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
My thanks to Skyhorse Publishing, and Netgalley.
Ayser Salman is a freak of nature! I expected all sort of Immigrant angst from her. Nope. Not a peep. She did experience a few weird things that most of us didn't. Sorry Ayser, the smacking of butts in preschool, must be an Ohio thing. Heck, it's probably in their college chant song! But since the rest of us aren't Midwesterners then we don't understand it! It is after all Ohio! My favorite thing about Ayser? She's human! Yep! Who'd a thunk it? She
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I enjoyed this memoir from Ayser Salman - it is full of funny and relatable moments, magnified by occasional cultural misunderstandings. Ayser moved from Iraq to Ohio to Saudi Arabia, and experiences awkwardness everywhere. The memoir finishes up in the almost present day, with stories about dating in her 40s. I love the interactions with her parents in particular.

I received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss, and it came out 5 March 2019.
Cindy Burnett
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every American should read this book. Salman examines growing up in the United States as a female Muslim and always feeling like she is sitting “at the wrong end of the table”. Moving with her family when she was young from Iraq to Columbus, Ohio, Salman endured culture shock of epic proportions. Daily American life occasionally placed her in positions that ran contrary to her religious beliefs and following the 9/11 attacks, Salman experienced hostility for simply being Muslim. I thoroughly enj ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I really wanted to love this, but I'll be honest - it was a slog.
For a comedy writer, this wasn't very funny. The chapters were all short stories about her life and while I get that's what memoirs are, it's the writer's job to take those short snippets and turn them into interesting, or educational, or fun prose. Salman failed and Wrong End is just a strange, rambling dinner conversation where you're not quite sure why your guest is telling you all this, but you nod politely anyway.

I liked the
Traci at The Stacks
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is a fun and light look into the life of an immigrant to the us from Iraq. It’s humorous though doesn’t dig particularly deep. It’s an easy read with some observations that are insightful though not life/world changing.
Jessica Jeffers
I picked this up off of Edelweiss because I'm making a conscious effort to read books by authors with a broader range of backgrounds. In that regard, this was an excellent memoir about a woman whose family immigrated from Iran to Kentucky to Saudi Arabia, then back to the US. Ayser Salman's story could not be more different than my own.

But, honestly, the bulk of this book didn't really do that much for me. Some of the stories made me giggle a little and a handful helped me see things from a dif
Brittany | thebookishfiiasco
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
thank you to Get Red PR and Sky Horse Publishing for sharing this memoir with me!
i’m already a sucker for a good memoir, but i really appreciated the longitudinal story telling, the different cultural experiences, and the way the Ayser writes as a whole in this memoir. there is humor weaved throughout the entirety of the book, while also maintaining authenticity and the realness of each story. i’ve caught myself laughing and immediately feeling all the feelings right after. it has been interest
Louise Rozett
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It takes guts to reference Garanimals, McMuffins, and dictators in one book, but Salman pulls it off with panache, aplomb, flair, and all the other words like that. I love this very funny—sometimes poignantly funny; sometimes dark; sometimes dramatic—and fascinating memoir about a highly-visible girl who would prefer to remain invisible as she tries to figure out how to adapt to a new culture, and then adapt to a different but familiar culture, and then re-readapt (is that a thing?) to the first ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved Ayser Salman's reading of her memoir! She is so funny, authentic, and refreshing. A great pick for audio. ...more
Linda Zagon
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Wrong End of the Table A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim American Woman Just Trying to Fit In” by Ayser Salman, Skyhorse Publishing, March 5, 2019

Ayser Salman, Author of “The Wrong End of the Table, A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab Woman Just Trying to Fit In” has written an entertaining and witty Memoir. Ayser Salman writes about her traditional and immigrant parents who left an oppressed life for freedom in America. As a little girl, Ayser had a diffic
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The following review is my personal opinion and in thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for an advance readers’ ebook.

I laughed my way through this charming book of an Iraqi woman and her experience growing up in America. I suppose I can relate being quite shy and insecure of myself growing up, but also knowing what it’s like living abroad. I had a good friend from a Turkish Muslim family and remember similar sentiments from them also. I won’t think of McDonald’s or money the same way.

Jennifer Schantz
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the audible version, which is read by the author. Some parts were laugh out loud funny!! The very beginning seemed like it could have used a bit more editing due to some redundancies in storytelling, but this was a mount distraction. I’m also a bit perplexed by the marketing of the book, which highlights a move to Cols, OH (though this is such a small part of the actual book). Nevertheless, I thought it was a really moving memoir, and I’m glad that it was chosen for my book club!
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
"The Wrong End of the Table" by Ayser Salman is a funny outlook on American life via the eyes of an Iraqi Muslim transplant. It's very light as in mostly the reader gets a view of dating obstacles rather than visits to the mosque, but the humor is well-constructed and the story is relatable.

The author moves to Ohio from Iraq at the age of 3 with eventually relocating to Kentucky then Saudi Arabia then back to Kentucky, where she wrestles with adolescence. Some of the events chosen to be highligh
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ayser Salman has found herself at the wrong end of the table for years, having straddled many - and seemingly disparate - identities. Born in Iraq, Ayser moved to the US at the age of three along with her family who sought to escape Iraq’s fascist and authoritarian regime. Ayser and her siblings grew up in Lexington, Kentucky; a town with few Arabs and foreigners at the time. In her memoir, Ayser recounts the challenges of growing up in a homogenous American town as the child of immigrants. Her ...more
Amina Ibrahim
“At the wrong end of the table” is an exaggerating written, a humorous memoir of an Iraqi-Muslim, Ayser Salman. She recounts her life from when she was three and her family immigrated to America to escape the Saddam Hussain’s regime.
The author was lucky as she escaped and had good opportunities, but she was always at the wrong end of the table, hence the title. Ayser wanted to be like other kids, a normal American, maybe one of the cool kids too. But she was always the weird lesbian girl (which
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
As mentioned in the preface of the book, I think b/c we are not only a country but also a world made up of many, many different people, the representation of this should be more diverse in our entertainment. (ie. books, movies, tv, music, etc.) So I do think it’s important that stories like these are published & read. For me, it helps get another viewpoint as well as knowledge of a different culture.

That being said, I liked this book.

The writer has a great sense of humor which is transl
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though described as a "mostly comic memoir" it is also a very factual account of immigrant life and how someone will cope in modern America.

Considering the "Muslim" question post 9/11 Ayser had a tough time as it is to assimilate and be part of the crowd from the time she was a little girl. She was just different and she had a tough time beginning with her name. Her parents were highly educated, modern and forward thinking but they still carried with them different ideas re women and their behav
May 04, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this would be a book I would enjoy and to some degree it was. The author talks about her culture, family, adventures in living in Kentucky, Saudi Arabia, England and then finally California. Her family, particularly her mother, has a significant affect on who she is. There is humor and lots of tongue-in-cheek comments and observations about herself and the impact of those around her which shapes who she becomes.

I was disappointed that there was not more discussion of her culture both b
Jan Reatherford
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the style the author used to portray her real life emotional journey of immigration, assimilation, and acceptance of being an American female Muslim from Iraq in the USA. She successfully uses humor to diffuse many embarrassing or hurtful events while trying to fit into the new culture. Her mother adds the finishing touches making me smile just thinking of how mothers everywhere can be so illogical, making no sense at all, when trying to convince a headstrong child of the error of thei ...more
The Happy Bibliophile
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, aoc, humor, memoir
Ayser’s story is the perfect juxtaposition between the immigrant trying to fit into American society as well as the Muslim Arab raised in America that no longer fits into Arabic society. Essentially, Ayser is in limbo between two worlds that she doesn’t quite fit into. No matter where she sits, she’s on the wrong end of the table.

Ayser’s journey reflected the journey that many people go through. I can relate to spending a major portion of your life trying to assimilate and working so hard to sho
Aubree (mnreadingmama) Cheadle
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommendations
Wow. I LOVED this book. I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a while and I finally got to it. (My library didn’t have it until I recommended it for purchase and they did! Hurrah!)

This book was totally binge-read-worthy. It was equal parts funny and entertaining as well as insightful and educational. It definitely opened my eyes to a perspective I hadn’t considered much before — that of a Muslim, Iraqi-born immigrant living in the United States — which is exactly what I look for in a good
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for the ARC of this hilarious and heart-warming memoir about Ayser Salman, a woman born in Iraq and raised in the United States after her parents escaped a fascist regime under Saddam Hussain. As the author promised, all the questions you have but are too polite to ask about Muslims are answered in a blunt and comical prose. I recommend this book to anyone who loves memoirs and learning about different cultures.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review (publication date: 3/5/2019). It’s not often you come across a memoir that’s both entertaining but also educational. Reading this was like having an extended chat with a friend, covering every subject under the sun. My only issue was the number of footnotes and how much additional information was found there.
Michele Gardiner
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is why I love memoir and true storytelling; I get to see the world through other people's eyes and experiences. Yet, I relate to some things Ayser Salman experienced: For one, being the new, different kid at school with the weird food in odd containers.

Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Pretty funny.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review, non-fiction, asia

💫 Hilarious (and insightful) voice — especially for a memoir!
I know some memoirs can be a little dull, but I've had so much luck with the ones I've picked up over the last year or so. And, luckily, this memoir was one of the best I have read in a long, long time.

The way Ayser retells events from her childhood, in particular, is phenomenal. Having been bullied for her race and culture cannot have been easy,
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ayser Salman’s memoir The Wrong End of the Table is a story of awkward childhood-teen antics and trying to figure out who you are when you have so many different cultures pulling you in different directions. Salman arrives in the U.S. with her family after they leave fascist Iraq in the 1980s. Figuring out who you are is no easy task and figuring out who you are as a Muslim, an Arab, an American, a woman, and an immigrant just feels like a lot of extra stress if you ask me. Salman, however, neve ...more
Tangled in Text
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I will never look at footnotes the same again. I LOVED the humor and authenticity of The Wrong End of the Table and the quirky, hilarious subtext of the footnotes from the publisher making comments to her mother needing her to include a disclaimer on a particular family story. I connected immediately with the longing to belong in the ever-present cliques of our youth and related to her many attempts to get a foot in the door in already seemingly solid friendship circles and in all aspects of lif ...more
Monica Mac
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book (although the footnotes were distracting - not the content, just the format, just saying).

Ayser is a lady who was born in Iraq, came to the US when she was a toddler, went to Saudi Arabia when she was a pre-teen and then came back to the US, where she has lived ever since. She is a modern Muslim woman who has tried to make sense of her world, even though there were times when she didn't feel like she fitted in.

As a fellow first generation person, there were a lot
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Forget the 'mostly' comic part of this title- this memoir is damn funny and with a big heart. I suspect it's much like the author herself.

At its core, 'The Wrong End of the Table' examines a life as an Arab-American woman, exploring Salman's childhood moving between countries and states and attempting to fit into every culture that she comes across. It's about romance and parents and politics and finding yourself and almost everything in between.

One of the brilliant things about this book is h
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Ayser Salman was born in Iraq before it became a curiosity, and moved to America as a toddler. She is a writer and Emmy nominated producer/editor for companies like Universal Pictures, Miramax Films, Disney, FX and Netflix.

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“best protection under a democracy is to actually participate in it.” 0 likes
“To put it plainly, our stories should not be of Muslims who happen to live in America: they should be of Americans who happen to come from Muslim backgrounds.” 0 likes
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