Written by an American woman who resides and teaches in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, these informal sketches of life in the Gulf capture the flavor of that exotic corner of the Arab world. Even as she acquaints us with intriguing aspects of Emirati culture, the author notes the varied difficulties inherent in perceiving another way of life, especially one that has been ignored and frequently misrepresented in the West. She provides a unique view of the diverse ways in which American pop culture affects Middle Eastern thought and custom, from shopping and song to fashion and fads.
Keenly observed and graced with wit and authority, these essays offer a palpable picture of a place little known to the West while raising substantial questions about the essence of culture and the stereotyping of people and places.
Off the Beaten Track will be vastly useful to teachers of Middle East studies and those who have contact with non-Western students. Readers interested in the region and travel aficionados will find it an enlightening and highly original read.
Judith Caesar is associate professor of English and chair of the English Department at American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. She is the author of Crossing Borders: An American Woman in the Middle East, also published by Syracuse University Press.
5 x 8, 192 pages