The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas

A stranger-than-fiction tale of forgiveness for an act of prejudicial violence in the wake of 9/11

Lone Star (In)Justice

The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas

by Anand Giridharadas
W.W. Norton & Co., 319 pp., $27.95

Those interested in both the best and worst of what it means to be American should read The True American, a stranger-than-fiction account of the aftermath of an act of violence in the wake of 9/11. Raisuddin Bhuiyan is a Bangladesh Air Force officer who has immigrated to America in search of "abundance and greatness." For the time being, however, he's working at the register of the Buckner Food Mart in a depressed part of Dallas, Texas. Mark Stroman is a "proud American" who has decided to extract vengeance for the World Trade Center attacks by killing Arabs – or, to be precise, people who look like Arabs to him. Stroman shoots three convenience store clerks, including Bhuiyan. Only Bhuiyan lives. Stroman is sentenced to death.

Blinded in one eye, abandoned by his fiancée, and further from his American dream than ever, Bhuiyan nevertheless interprets the rules of his Islamic faith to mean that he must not only forgive Stroman, but seek to have him removed from death row. Giridharadas vividly, sympathetically, and unsparingly paints a picture of how both men found themselves in that convenience store, and what happens after. While his love of detail can occasionally slow down the story, the book is too well-written and the characters are too fascinating to miss.

READ MORE
More July Is Crime Month
Patricia Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith
The crime writer's dark world is stranger than (literary) fiction

Amy Gentry, July 25, 2014

The Other Side
The Other Side
Memoir by Houston writer Lacy Johnson recounts a personal trauma with honesty and haunting beauty

Jessi Cape, July 25, 2014

More Arts Reviews
Review: <i>Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense</i>
Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense
Amy Gentry's page-turning thriller is set apart by its realistic and empathetic portrayal of abuse victims and their families

Jessi Cape, July 22, 2016

Getaways Far, Far Away
Arcadia: A Novel
Four protagonists move through our world, imaginary worlds, and time in Iain Pears' sumptuous tangle of a book

Rosalind Faires, June 17, 2016

More by Amy Kamp
Notes on Kamp: Cowards
Notes on Kamp: Cowards
Why is the right wing so scared of voting rights?

June 3, 2016

Notes on Kamp: Theory and Practice
Notes on Kamp: Theory and Practice
Labor protections are worthless if not enforced

May 27, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

July Is Crime Month, The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas, Anand Giridharadas

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)