A Shared Mem­oir

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Women’s Issues -

Reema Za­man, Am­ber­jack Pub­lish­ing (FE­BRU­ARY) Hard­cover $24.99 (300pp), 978-1-948705-11-0, MEM­OIR

“Long ago I stopped try­ing to ex­plain you to any­one,” Reema Za­man says to her imag­i­nary in­ter­locu­tor, ad­dressed sim­ply as “Love.” Caught “some­where be­tween formed and form­ing,” Za­man archives a per­sonal jour­ney that’s in­ti­mate and at­tuned to a wider cul­tural mo­ment. A stag­ger­ing work filled with pres­ence, I Am Yours pro­vides a pro­found ex­pla­na­tion of love, de­liv­ered as an act of wit­ness.

In Bangladesh, Za­man’s fam­ily rose through the so­cio-eco­nomic ranks, from poverty to brush­ing shoul­ders with the world’s one per­cent, due to her fa­ther’s work at the UN. An as­tute, em­pathic ob­server by the time she grad­u­ated high school, Za­man wit­nessed a world of dif­fer­ence, in­side and out­side her home. For univer­sity, she em­barked to the US to study act­ing, in­tend­ing to use it as a form of ac­tivism. In­evitably, her path lead to New York City.

But these are dry facts. They don’t be­gin to touch on the sub­stance and mean­ing that Za­man finds in their scope.

An epis­to­lary to love, Za­man’s story is stun­ning. In a never-end­ing test to prove her­self wor­thy, she achieves and achieves. Yet, fre­quently, her achieve­ment feeds a pun­ish­ing in­ter­nal voice or makes her a tar­get for ex­ter­nal pun­ish­ment. The sex­ism, as­sault, and fun­da­men­tal vi­o­lence she ex­pe­ri­ences be­cause of fat pho­bia, race, misog­yny, and pa­tri­archy—all the shat­ter­ing par­tic­u­lars of her life—are shown as no more than the warp and weft of any sys­tem that in­sists wom­an­hood should si­mul­ta­ne­ously make and break a per­son.

To­ward the end, Za­man de­ter­mines that “some­times, a scrap of sen­tence is the match that lights a flame. If I ever write a book, it will be to give all of us more than a hur­ried line of love.” Pow­er­fully vul­ner­a­ble and elo­quent, Za­man’s voice is a fire—full-throated, wideopen, and roar­ing.

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