Our guest for this episode is Elamin Abdelmahmoud – political and cultural commentator, Buzzfeed News senior culture writer and author of the new essay collection Son of Elsewhere: A Memoir in Pieces. We discuss the meaning of “elsewhere” in his work, and the complexity of loving something that doesn’t align with your politics. We also get into Black music, and great books on music.
The Stacks Book Club selection for July is Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih. We will discuss the book on July 27th with Elamin Abdelmahmoud.
*Due to the nature of podcast advertising, these timestamps are not 100% accurate and will vary.
Traci Thomas 0:00
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today we are speaking with Elamin Abdelmahmoud, the Toronto based Sudanese Canadian writer, cultural and political commentator, and the host of the podcast, pop chat and podcast playlist. Elamin’s new book is called Son of elsewhere a memoir and pieces and it’s about His coming of age and a place he likes to call elsewhere. Today we talked about how elamin became black his relationship to music and the politics of problematic favorites. Our book club pick for July a season of migration to the north by tyabb Sully. We will be discussing the book on July 27. When Elamin Abdelmahmoud returns. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the stocks can be found in the link in the shownotes. If you love the show and want more of it head to patreon.com/the stacks to join the stacks back, we’ve got bonus episodes, a super active discord community, monthly book club meetups and a lot more. It’s also a great way for you to show your support for the work we do on this independent podcast, head to patreon.com/the stacks to join. And now it’s time for my conversation with Elamin Abdelmahmoud
Alright everybody, I’m so excited. Today I am joined by El Amin Abdel Mahmoud, who is the author of son of elsewhere, he’s a podcaster. He’s a buzz feeder, he’s a writer, generally a human, alanine, welcome to the stacks.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 3:27
I love being introduced as generally a human that is true, that’s a big factor. That’s a significant part of my identity. I would say probably the majority of my identity is just that. But yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Traci Thomas 3:39
I don’t know if that’s the majority. For me, the majority of your identity is author of son of elsewhere. That’s what we’re here to talk about.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 3:46
That’s fair. That’s fair. Thank you for having me.
Traci Thomas 3:50
I’m so excited. You’re here, I have to tell you a quick story about how this happened. Basically, I started reading your book, and a friend of mine had mentioned how much they loved season of migration to the north. And as I was reading, like your first or second essay, is mentioned in the book. And I was like, oh my god, this is the sign. I have to read the book. And then as I kept reading your book, I was like, oh my god, I love this guy. Maybe he’ll come and talk with me about this book, of course, and I’m so excited because we’ll get to this next time. But you’re gonna have to do a lot of helping me understand what the fuck I read. And we can do it together. Just so you know. You’re about to become not just generally human, but also generally a teacher. Teacher.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 4:38
I don’t know if I can do that. But you know, I’m gonna do my best. That’s the part that’s gonna we’re gonna try it. We’re gonna figure it out together.
Traci Thomas 4:46
Yeah, but before we get to that, let’s talk about you. Alameen your, well, why don’t you tell the people a little bit about you that that fills in the sort of generally a human gap that I left.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 4:58
I’ve covered Most of the jobs are the US so I am a culture writer for Buzzfeed News. That’s my is what I do for a living. I always have Pop Culture Show for CBC here in Canada, called Pop chats are sort of like a weekly pop culture show where we talk about the biggest story in pop culture that week. I’m a father of a five year old, you know, I am generally a human, I am someone who has a really hard time leaving the house without like, a new playlist arranged. And so when I say that I’m like, 20 minutes late to something, it’s usually because I spent 15 minutes of it trying to make the perfect playlist, you know, that’s me, that’s me. In a nutshell. I can’t drive a 15 minute drive without making a brand new playlist and be like, what are the songs that I need for exactly this drive? That’s me?
Traci Thomas 5:47
Oh, my gosh, okay. What I think is fantastic about you, is that, if I was going to describe your book, I would mention basically zero of those things, because the way that it’s pitches, it’s like Sudanese immigrant to Canada, and it’s like about your different identities. And I love that you didn’t mention any of that. Because that just means we have so much more to talk about we do. I want to start with your not with your book, actually, I want to start with your podcast life because you do a pop culture podcast, a music podcast, a politics podcast that maybe you don’t do anymore? How the fuck do you stay up on all these things? Like, when do you eat? When do you sleep? When do you relax? When do you take care of your child, when to spend time with your lovely wife, Emily, who we get to meet in the book we all love very much.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 6:36
Um, honestly, I, the pop culture parts are woven into all of these things, you know, like be so much of me listen to new music is me reaction to it in the car while my daughter is in the car also. And she’s like, why don’t we listen to and why is this not the unconscious soundtrack, which Fair enough? You know, she has notes. Often, I would say that like the the majority of my time, I’m lucky enough to sort of be paid for a living to listen to and engage with new pop culture. And so I spent a lot of time doing that spend a lot of time thinking about new music, thinking about new films or TV shows that have come out. That’s what I do. That’s what I get to do for a living. Like, my boss is like, Hey, this is a part of your job. Go do that. And so that allows me a lot of time to just take in a lot of new information and then process it and go, Oh, yes, this is something I want to engage with.
Traci Thomas 7:29
Yeah, I don’t ever have time for pop culture, things because I have to read things. And my biggest regret in life is that I didn’t make a podcast about like, snacks, because that’s my favorite thing. And then I could just eat snacks all the time and not spend hours reading, though I do reading is my second favorite thing. Okay, I want to ask you about elsewhere, which is, you know, the title of your books on elsewhere, you start you start the book there, you sort of explain it, can you explain to the listeners sort of the framing of this idea of elsewhere, what it is maybe where it is how it came to you like just I loved reading about it. So I want you to share with the peeps,
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 8:07
I think, for me elsewhere is about balance. Like it’s about the tug and pull of allocating, you know, certain parts of your identity to different parts of where you come from. And so, I was born in Sudan, I moved to Canada when I was 12. For some time, I sort of spent a lot of energy and brain just power dedicated to being like, Am I more from there are more from here, and what is this in between space and the kind of bouncing back and forth and bounces back and forth. And I wanted to own the space in the middle I wanted to own the bouncing the sort of rattling this idea of Yeah, actually more more often than not and being jostled from one place to the other, but I don’t have to think of either one of them is home, I can’t think of the jostling is home, I can sort of be okay with understanding that I’m constantly going to be pulled back and forth. And that’s elsewhere elsewhere is this tension that you hold? When you are like, you know, I’m feeling pretty good at today. And then you see one thing that reminds you of Sudan, and you kind of go like, Whoa, I don’t know where I’m from, I feel lost. And everywhere else I see all the time. For example, people have like, tattoos of words that they can’t say, you know, but they know that like this means something to their family or their parents. That’s elsewhere. To me, that’s a place that you’re like, I want to have a relationship with this place. But I don’t know what kind of relationship it is and like that’s that’s living in between you.
Traci Thomas 9:35
Do you think that it’s exclusive to immigrants or people who have children of like recent immigrants, or do you think that it can be elsewhere for other types of identities?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 9:47
I don’t think it’s exclusive at all. I think it’s sometimes there are two identities that demand your attention and they can be competing with it can be contradictory and you kind of feel yourself being suspended Between the two of them. I recently talked to someone who was like, you know, I grew up in this like small town. And we were not particularly like wealthy. But now I’m someone who a I have money and be exist in a world where we have a lot of cultural power that he gets, he gets a lot of influence in terms of getting shape politics. And he’s like, I no longer belong in my hometown. But I absolutely don’t feel like I belong in this like World of like rich, powerful people that I certainly exist in all the time. I feel very much my hometown when I’m with these people. And I feel very much of these people in my hometown. And I think that is its own version of elsewhere. I think there’s many ways for you to be pulled back and forth in those ways. Yeah. For me, this is how it manifested itself. But I think other people can have lots of different Elsewheres.
Traci Thomas 10:48
Well, I related to elsewhere, but I was like, Maybe I’m just being selfish and projecting myself onto someone else’s story.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 10:56
No, yeah. It’s like an invitation for you to project yourself onto it. I hope. Thank you for projecting yourself wonder. Yeah,
Traci Thomas 11:02
I did. I it’s really my thing is to make everything about me. So I did. Naturally, I do that strong, strong. But I feel like I mean, you sort of talked about it about like, when you came to America, all art in America to Canada, all of a sudden, you were black. And I was thinking a lot about what it means to be American and what it means to be black. And like that there is that elsewhere in between those things as well. You know, we’re recording this on June T, observed in America, but with this will be airing the week of Fourth of July, which is my favorite holiday. But there’s a big elsewhere in there.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 11:40
Who do want to talk about that. You want to talk about why the Fourth of July is your favorite holiday because like yeah, now we’re gonna make the rest of the podcasts about this like bit.
Traci Thomas 11:47
It’s not me saying you’re making it about me. I told you. Yeah, absolutely. I will tell you why Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. I love the summer. I love any holiday that has no presence. I love outdoors. I love a barbecue. I love a cocktail. I especially like like a summer cocktail moment. And before I understood history, I liked that it was like this national thing that everyone loved. Yeah. And it was always like a good hang holiday. Sometimes we’d go to the lake. It was summer vacation. Like, it’s hot dogs. It’s it’s just like a fun thing. Yeah, then you read history. And then you remember that you’re black. And if you remember elsewhere right?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 12:38
It gets complicated for you later.
Traci Thomas 12:40
Yeah. So like I love Fourth of July love like, that day is a holiday. And like people, we always have a barbecue and all that stuff. But now I’ve like stopped wearing red, white and blue on Fourth of July.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 12:51
Like do you think do you think they’ll ever be like, You know what Fourth of July can be its own meaning to me. And I want to wear red, white and blue on this holiday. Because I think some people do find their ways back and be like, I get that this is complicated. But also this is mine. You know, I don’t know if you’re anywhere near there.
Traci Thomas 13:10
I don’t know. Because America, obviously was horrible to black people in 1776 when the holiday started, but also like, things are still really bad. And so it feels and like, you know about politics, but I’m assuming it’s mostly Canadian is like that’s what you write about. That’s where you are. But you know, I’m sure you’ve heard of Magga and January civil Yeah. And these things. And I feel like it’s a holiday that those people love. And so wearing red, white, and blue feels like a different horrible chain. It doesn’t just feel like I’m wearing red and blue, because that’s the colors of our flag. Because if it was just that I could do it. But right now, it just feels like I don’t want anyone to think that I think it’s okay to be American broadly, because of how horrible the other people in red, white and blue today are?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 14:03
No, I think that’s that’s the complicating thing about nationalism in general and flags right now, you know, like, we’re having a similar moment in this country. You know, there was this really big story in February where like a trucker convoy took over our capital horse, but they leverage Korean capital and they just had a bunch of flags as being like, we’re about this. And that I think there’s a there’s something that’s like, a little bit confusing when the rest of the country doesn’t have a very intense relationship with nationalism. So you’re like, Yeah, we the flag is nice and great. And so it’s weird to see a symbol that you associate with just like the every day and being used in this like very different way. And so I think a lot of people are reconfiguring their relationship to the flag. And it’s strange, you know, it’s strange to see something they’ve thought about in one way their whole life, suddenly be reframed. I’m like, that’s his own version of elsewhere. You know, you’re like, I love this flag. But I also don’t want to love it in the way that these people love it. How can I not be a part of that? You know, right?
Traci Thomas 15:09
No, totally. I mean, I think I’m going to ask you about this later, like your, your favorite problematic book, but I mine is I tell everyone this, it’s gone with the wind. And it’s the same kind of thing. I love the book. I love the movie. But there are people who love it in a way that are diametrically opposed to my entire existence. And so it becomes problematic. Yeah, you know, and like, obviously, the history there is wonky and depictions, blah, blah, blah. But like, more than anything, it’s problematic to me because I don’t want to be aligned with the other people who are aligned with this thing that I love.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 15:44
That’s true. That’s gonna be really complicated. Yeah, you don’t
Traci Thomas 15:47
you don’t want to say something and then have like Tucker Carlson retweet you, you know, it’s like, Wait, why? Why do we like this thing together? We hate everything. You know, it’s like, when I see an athlete, post something, and then I see some horrible right wing person be like this. Yeah. And then I’m like, oh, no, I can’t like you anymore.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 16:08
Can I ask you? Do you think this is a technology problem? Or do you think it’s like the idea problem, because in many ways, it’s like, liking things, we can continue, like the same things that we’ve always liked. But performing that liking in public seems to be much more complicated. Like, I think if I was just like, yeah, having a conversation with a person, you could just explain to them the things that you like, they’re not going to be like, What are you crazy raging braces, they might just be like, okay, cool. You’re a human being and we’re having a conversation with you in person, as opposed to endorsing it online, which feels like okay, there’s an imagined audience and then you kind of imagine the morality of that audience. And then it gets kind of like spun out to, you know, 80 million levels. And then suddenly, we’re like, was the internet a mistake? Like, that’s where you end up? You know, to me like it’s I don’t love that part. I feel really complicated with that part. To be honest.
Traci Thomas 16:54
I definitely think some of it is a technology problem. I think the Fourth of July thing is not that’s I think that’s like that feels like I would feel bad. I’m not really like publicly like I love Fourth of July because of the technology part of it. Yeah. I feel weird on like, I didn’t do a fourth of July party for two years because I felt uncomfortable. Yeah, with my dearest closest friends and family. Do you know what I mean? It wasn’t about like Tucker Carlson. That’s fair. That’s fair. But anyways, this is I love Fourth of July. Everyone who celebrates had a lovely day. This is airing like July 6, there’s something I hope
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 17:34
I want this for you.
Traci Thomas 17:35
This can be go there will be hot dogs, don’t you worry. It’s it’s really the whole reason I as I mentioned, I love a snack. I love a food hot dog on the list. Yeah. Okay, this, this got really off track. But while we’re talking about snacks and things, you love Pepsi?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 17:53
I do. I sure do. I wrote at length about the ways that I was a very committed Pepsi person. I’ve changed teams I don’t want to talk about it. You know, I will not you have I have it’s really complicated for me man to Coke or to something entirely different. Like like Coke Zero specifically.
Traci Thomas 18:10
It’s okay. Delicious.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 18:12
It’s a low key the superior product like I don’t I feel complicated about this. But yeah,
Traci Thomas 18:17
this is your fourth of July.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 18:20
I love Coke Zero. But I don’t want to like publicly admit this to anybody in case they use it against me, you know, but yes,
Traci Thomas 18:27
I just didn’t know, a Pepsi person. And my dad really liked Pepsi. It’s, it’s tough for me. I just don’t you liked the taste of Pepsi?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 18:40
Well, first of all, few things. Let me say this one. Pepsi in Sudan tasted different. I would say like, I think like this, do you ever have Do you ever order Mexican coke? Is that a thing for us? Yes,
Traci Thomas 18:52
that’s a different Yeah, that has real sugar in it
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 18:54
has just right. So you use a sugar cane as opposed to corn syrup, for sweetener. And it’s way better. It’s way better and you can taste the difference. And I think I feel the same way when it comes to Pepsi in Sudan versus Pepsi here like I think Pepsi here is way too sweet. But in Sudan, like I got with stuff that I really gravitated to was just like the regular Pepsi and the way that it made me feel it was like this feels cool. You know? I will say like I didn’t I don’t know if coke had as big a presence in Sudan. It also helped that my uncle worked for Pepsi. And so that kind of allowed me let’s say study axis.
Traci Thomas 19:32
Yeah, and that Aunt is is your favorite aunt because she got the access to the Pepsi it was very clear that you loved your family members love your phone numbers based on relation to Pepsi.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 19:43
Yeah, an uncle who works at Pepsi a anon to always regularly gets me Pepsi. Like that’s those are my people. 100% Yeah,
Traci Thomas 19:52
I respect this. Okay, there’s so many things I want to talk to about the book everyone if you haven’t read the book it you have to read it because there’s so much good stuff in it. And we only have so much time. But I want to talk about music because I know that you talk about music a lot in life. And when you first came to Canada, your cousin was like El Amin, listen to hip hop, check out NAS check out Lauryn Hill, like you’ll feel seen. And you listened. And you were like, I’m sort of a square. It’s a little too much swearing. It’s a little too much sexy time. It’s just it’s a little much for me. Yeah. Yeah. And I’m wondering, because so in the book, you then write about new metal, you write about country music. And I feel that people might suggest that’s like white music. They might. And I’m they might, and I think that all music is black music personally. Yes. So I’m just wondering like how you feel, as a and I know that you’ve like made your way back to hip hop. And I know you talk about that a little bit here and there. But I’m wondering how you feel about the erasure of blackness from the kinds of music that you did connect with. And like if you felt that you had to justify yourself, because that’s another thing that you talk about is like trying to find your place as a black person in a new country when you don’t feel like you’re black? Because you weren’t black, when you were in the Sudan. So it’s sort of that’s like a huge, weird, crazy question. Have fun with it.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 21:21
I love this question is so crazy. Well, I’ll start with this is that like, when I gravitated towards new metal, he was specifically because I saw it as white. He was like this is I see this as white music, and I’m just gonna go towards it. And so by the time I got around to listening to country music, I didn’t, you know, I didn’t have any particular reservations about white versus black types of music, like I was approaching the genre, like, this is a predominantly white form of music, but I will still engage with it anyway. And I sort of started diving into it. I think when I started diving into the history of country music is when I began to understand that so much of its history is black music about the fact that, you know, at the turn of the 20th century, so many of the swing bands in the South were white or black, were basically doing the same music, there wasn’t wasn’t a lot of difference in them. And the way that there was package was basically due to this one man, Ralph Pierre, who saw that there was a lot of money to be made in taking all the black artists were doing the swing dancing music and calling it race records, and taking all the white artists and calling them hillbilly. And then hillbilly eventually became country music and country music is kind of foundational to the white mythology in America. But it still comes from a place where oh, this music was once borderless was one sort of very loose was not you know, the it wasn’t such a rigid kind of division between the genres. Now, all of that connected to my own relationship to genre is that like, at first, when I ran away from hip hop, it’s because I come from a place that has a deep history of shade ism, a place that has a deep history of colorism. The I when I arrived here, I was like, What do you mean, we’re black, like, I don’t view my skin color is black, I don’t think of myself as a black person. And when I turn on the TV and the predominantly white town that I lived in, you know, it was like, here’s some iterations of what is black and, and it was like, I could only see blackness on television. And it was like jaw rule. And I was like, I want none of this. I’m gonna run away from John. No, thank you, John rule. And it’s it It scared me because I sort of grew up in this like, relatively conservative upbringing. It was like, no, no, like, that’s black music. And that’s what I sort of ran away towards that white music, but then White music quote, unquote. But now I sort of think about that as very differently in the sense that you’re absolutely right, like so much of the music is rooted in black music, black music kind of gave us all of these other forms of music in general. And so I’m grateful to know more about the history I’m grateful to spend time with the history because it allows me to sort of unsettled my own ideas of I was listening to what music is like was it or was I listened to like, you know, derivative 985,000 of the blues essentially, which is how we eventually got to new metal and eventually how we got to all other kinds of music.
Traci Thomas 24:15
Right we’re around the same age I think because a lot of your cultural touchstones are mind to like the OSI very remember very well where I was with that finale. Yeah, alert.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 24:27
RIP Marisa, gone too soon, but also, maybe not
Traci Thomas 24:33
but also gone very late. Took a long time. Last season so like a lot of the music when you’re talking about the sunset, like holy shit, I forgot about lip biscuit. Because that was like very TRL I remember like, will cause like, I was not listening to that. I I wasn’t because it was white music. It was because I really like a melody. I really like rhythm. I feel strongly about rhythm. Next But it was just not aesthetically pleasing to my ears. That’s the screaming it’s, it’s a lot. Okay, I’m pushing. There’s a whole other conversation I want to have with you about language. I’m gonna push that till when we get to season of migration to the north. But the last thing I want to ask you about your book before we move on to your reading taste is about soccer or football, specifically mo Salah and Liverpool. Are you a Liverpool fan?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 25:29
No Liverpool fan would imply that it’s something that I do on the side. I am professionally a supporter of the Liverpool Football Club. Everything else I do is in the service of I guess like eating and breathing. But the most primary identity that I have is I am a devout I’m a devotee of the Liverpool Football Club. So fan I think he’s gonna casual and distant so yeah, I don’t but I will accept fan as substitute for anything else are we talking about here? The devotion runs deep.
Traci Thomas 26:03
Do you identify as a Liverpudlian?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 26:07
I sure No, not even remotely? Not even that even spiritually like not even like have you been to Liverpool? Never Never been to Liverpool?
Traci Thomas 26:15
Okay. And is your Liverpool obsession passion and we reason for being exclusively tied to Masala or if he leaves? Are you a man united fan all of a sudden? Are you going all in on resto Paladin?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 26:32
Can you imagine? I think there is a possibility that it would become a Manchester United fan. Say for example, I get hit by a car and I wake up and I have no idea who I am. And then people who nursed me back to health. They say hey, by the way, you’ve you’ve been a longtime supporter of Manchester United, in which case I guess I would believe them. That’s really the only circumstances I can survive being potentially oriented towards such woof obviously a low standard team as I just know, I
Traci Thomas 27:02
am a city fan. So I also don’t like Man United but you’re a city
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 27:06
fan. Oh, man, I really have to leave this podcast right now. I’m really sorry. So
Traci Thomas 27:12
we can be friendly. I also have insane I actually now despise masala, but it’s not his fault at all. But I can’t shake this. I’m gonna tell you my crazy story. Yeah,
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 27:23
I’m ready. Like I beg your pardon. Go.
Traci Thomas 27:26
So I just want to reiterate, this has nothing to do with Mo and everything to do with math, so you’ll get it. I have two small children are two and a half year old twins. We were at the park one day there was like a tunnel that my kid was crawling through. He got scared. So he sat down in the middle of the tunnel. And I let him do that because I was like he’s scared. He needs to try to like figure it out. He wasn’t crying. He just was like, scared. spooked. Yeah. And then these older kids came through and they had just played a soccer game. There maybe like eight or nine. And they started coming through the tunnel. And this one little boy came up to me and was like, You need to get him out of the tunnel. And I was like, Okay, thank you for telling me how to parent seven year old child. And it wasn’t because he was worried it was because he wanted to go through the tunnel on unimpeded. Sure. All the kids go through, they step over my kid, it’s fine. Then about five minutes later, this boy who is telling me what to do comes back. And he steps on my kid. At which case, obviously, I get really fucking pissed and I’m like, What are you doing? You don’t step on people. And then the kid comes out and then I go into the tunnel to get my kid at which point my kid starts crying immediately and I was like, Okay, you could have just said Mommy come get me but it’s fine. Whatever. Yeah, and then I turn to see the kid who is telling me what to do and he had on a fucking most solid Jersey
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 28:49
Okay, first of all, that sounds horrific, but I feel like mo wouldn’t endorse this he’d be like I don’t care
Traci Thomas 28:55
this kid felt community without player. I want to wear this jersey this guy’s me we rallied. And mo Salah is out.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 29:06
By the powers invested in me as a Liverpool devotee. I excommunicate that kid from the Liverpool fandom.
Traci Thomas 29:14
Back in on masala. I love him. The other reason he’s so good. He’s so scary, so scared when he’s coming down the pitch with the ball. I’m like, oh my god, stop, stop. I’m like, There’s nothing not even ederson can stop this man. Like, yeah, it’s terrifying.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 29:30
I can’t believe you invoke ederson in this chat, I really have to go now. Unbelievable, you know, is my number one enemy on Earth. I think there’s something about watching mo run, right? Like this guy runs with his whole body in a way that I think a lot of other footballers don’t like other people are like, Oh, you’re running with your feet and I get it. But like most whole being is being kind of lurched forward in a way that is just so compelling to watch. You’re like, this guy will have no control. That’s how fast is going but he has all the control and it’s just like it’s poetry, but in a Bobby, it’s just incredible. It’s incredible to watch him play. Yeah,
Traci Thomas 30:03
he’s great. I could talk soccer or football, whatever you call it. I don’t know. I think in Canada, they say football.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 30:11
I mean, they say soccer, but I just say football and I figure let people catch up, you know?
Traci Thomas 30:16
Yeah, I got it. I got it. I didn’t prep you for this. But every month we do this thing where someone writes in they’re asking for a book recommendation. We’re going to read what they asked for and then we’re going to give them a recommendation. Okay, ready? Okay, this comes from Shannon Shannon says, Oh, this is nice. Shannon says nice thing at the beginning. Okay. All of the gratitude and thanks to all that you do and all that you suggest. I read mostly nonfiction and UPS and am obsessed with cults, diverse religions, alternative thought lifestyles, memoirs, mental health and true crime. Yep, it gets weird. My top reads include crying and H Mart. We keep the dead close. Leaving isn’t the hardest thing. Hidden Valley Road The only plane in the sky and life undercover. I’m looking for some deep dives to keep my wheels turning and occupied during this stressful reintegration of life that we’re all facing. Ooh, I can go first. I’m going to give her three you can just come up with one but if more than one come to you, that’s great, too. Okay. Okay, Shannon, my first one should come a 0% Surprise. Anyone who listens to this show. It’s one of my favorite books. It’s called 1000 lives. It’s by Julia Shearer’s and it’s about the Jonestown community, people’s temple, etc, etc. It’s fucking phenomenal. The book is focused on the people of the people’s temple and not of Jim Jones. But you got more than your fair share of Jim Jones. Don’t worry. My second one is going clear by Lawrence Wright, which is about Scientology. It’s really good. It’s really well written. He wrote the book, The Looming Tower about 911 and the investigation, etc, etc. He’s a very well liked a journalist. And then my last one is Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey. And she was the poet laureate of America. It’s her memoir about the murder of her mother by her stepfather. Oh my god, it’s very short. It’s very intense. It’s so well written. So those are my three Alameen what You got
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 35:01
no boy, okay, I’m interpreting the way that that asked was put as you like to be immersed in worlds real life worlds that are just really colourful rendered. And so they recommend you say champagne supernovas, which is a book by marine, I want to say Maureen Callahan, I can’t remember her last name. But it’s a it’s a book about Kate Moss and Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs. And that very specific, like mid 90s Fashion moment that sort of gave us everything that we sort of think about the 90s now, and it’s like, so beautifully written in the ways that it kind of captures exactly what the 90s was. But also, the bees were just like a bunch of children who didn’t know what they were doing when they were they kind of basically created the culture, you know. And so there’s something really compelling about how deeply plopped into that world. You are, you know, is that like, kind of go like, wow, Alexander McQueen was just like making it up as he went along. And then now goes like this, like, here’s, like, this genius. And so champagne supernovas, I highly, highly recommend it. I think like the subtitle is like, the Renegades who made the 90s or something I don’t remember. But it’s so so good.
Traci Thomas 36:19
I’ll link to that in the show notes. So the author will be there too.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 36:22
And then the other one is, oh, it’s called where the devil don’t stay. And this is related to country music. Oh, because it’s a history of the band that drive by truckers who are just like a deeply influential sort of alt country kind of band, like they do country sort of rock and roll kind of thing. Where the devil don’t stay and it’s by God, Steven, something I can’t remember his name.
Traci Thomas 36:47
But don’t worry, we’re gonna link to it. So it’ll be there for people. But so someone
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 36:51
who like became really, really, really popular after he left the drive by truckers is this guy named Jason Isbell. And he does sort of deeply like incredible, Americana kind of music. His songwriting, to me is like, unparalleled. He’s just one of the best songwriters in America right now. And I think like getting a sense of like, here’s this band. And here’s the ways that they have to rough it in the sort of early aughts in order to get through their career. You’re just so deeply plopped into this world. I highly recommend that. And then by way of memoir, why don’t I throw in Rachel casks Coventry, which is a banger. Just I just just an incredible account of parenting marriage, her relationship to her parents, Rachel Cusk anything, of course, but Rachel Cusk nonfiction is just like truly underrated to me mostly because people want to talk about the fishing because it’s so good. So Coventry is the one I’d recommend.
Traci Thomas 37:50
Love it. Love it. Shannon. If you read any of these, you have to let us know what you thought. And everyone else email ask the stacks at the stacks. podcast.com To get your book recommendation. Read on air. Okay, yay. This is my favorite part. We get to talk about your taste and books. Two books you love one book you hate.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 38:09
I’m not very good at hating things. Like I don’t know.
Traci Thomas 38:14
I hate when people do this to me. Pick a book you don’t like
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 38:18
is that a lot? That doesn’t happen to me. I’m also there I’m not are you a completed? Are you someone who’s like, I don’t like this book? I’m gonna dip out okay, yeah, saying no.
Traci Thomas 38:25
But if I don’t like a book enough, I will finish it just so I can know all the things that are just like because I am petty even with strangers books,
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 38:34
either. I don’t have that I don’t have that muscle. To books I love let me give you home is not a country which has a novel inverse by sci fi el Hillo. She’s a Sudanese American writer. She’s incredible. And it’s a there’s something about her prose that is just so like shocking to me as someone who’s like constantly looking for echoes of Sudan in the ways that people move or ways that people carry themselves. So home is not a country highly recommend that. Let’s do another novel in verse. Newer Naga and her book is wash is praised and it’s a very short novel universe that is just like a deeply compelling meditation on faith and the ways that it can really mess you up and the ways that it could really sort of pull you back together and I don’t want to spoil too much of that plot.
Traci Thomas 39:26
Dance pal anything
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 39:27
in fact, I was born living it out yeah, and a book I hate I don’t have one I don’t I really don’t have one I’m not good at this. Okay, what’s
Traci Thomas 39:35
what about a book that you put down because you really didn’t like it so far?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 39:40
I don’t my brain doesn’t have that kind of space to like retain. No matter what I like it was are you
Traci Thomas 39:45
not like a grudge person?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 39:47
No, no. What is there to be grudging about what’s
Traci Thomas 39:52
a funny story later in life like about that kid? I remember every detail of that little mo Salah kid because I’m going to tell that story for the rest of my life and every Soccer I bet I go to
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 40:01
I don’t have that. I wish I had that muscle but I don’t have that muscle like I don’t have the muscle was like, I’m gonna remember this and the way that I mad about it, because it should live in my brain so that I can recall them later. I just don’t. I don’t have it. I wish I did. I definitely really wish they were here like I have been afflicted with.
Traci Thomas 40:20
I have enough for both of us probably 90% of my personality. I’m 90% grudge and 10% snacks. And that’s it. That’s
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 40:31
incredible. That’s beautiful Diet
Traci Thomas 40:32
Coke specifically, and hot dog. Okay, what’s the last really great book you read?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 40:41
Last Great book I read. I just got the advanced reading copy for this book called rap capital and Atlanta story. It’s by Joe Costello. He was a New York Times music reporter. And he wrote this like thick ass book about how Atlanta became the center of hip hop? Because I don’t know, like, Are you a big hip hop person? Yes,
Traci Thomas 41:03
I am. But I don’t agree with that assessment. I think California though, so there’s like a lot of opinions about, you know, regionally hip hop and what is the center of hip hop? I’m not a huge Hip Hop person, but I’m into hip hop.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 41:18
I think there’s something compelling about that, right? There’s something compelling about, we are in such a big Atlanta moment right now. And that feels surprising to so many people. Like if you think about like, if you think about like the great centers of hip hop, and sure New York, absolutely, California. But then like as hip hop kind of like shifts around in a bunch of different places. Like, weirdly, we were like in a big Houston moment, you know, in like the early 2000s. But then we kind of just shifted gears and now we’re in Atlanta with like, Young Thug, or like little baby or like migos. And all the Atlanta sound more than anything else is like the predominant kind of hip hop sound right moment. And maybe people are mad about this. But I think like, that wasn’t going to be taken for granted. I think by anyone who’s in Atlanta, especially like when you think about, I don’t know, if you remember, like the moment where outcasts like won the award, and they got up and they’re like, the South got something to say, yeah. Because like the South was, for the longest time kind of treat is like an afterthought when it comes to hip hop, right. And then suddenly, you have hip hop, kind of come to the middle come to the fore, land that come to the fore, as hip hop is becoming the most predominant form of popular music that we have. And so Jocasta really kind of like traces, the rise of both of those things, and also like, not an insignificant amount about Drake, and the way that he sort of shape shifts from, like, borrowing from Houston and borrowing from Atlanta and borrowing from lots of different places to become, you know, the most popular rapper on Earth, largely because he is so Camille Yannick and the ways that he kind of approaches hip hop.
Traci Thomas 42:59
Speaking of Drake, releasing new album, he thoughts.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 43:04
I’m into it, but I am I, I’ve been waiting for Drake to shift gears for some time. Like I I’ve honestly, I was bored by the last album. I was like, Drake, this is enough of this. We get it. You’re lonely and it’s hard. And like, who cares? Who cares, man, like, we get it you your your fellows will ride with you, wherever you go, who gives a shit? Can you please figure out like a different mode of being as an artist. And I think it’s actually genuinely hard. If you’re Drake, to shift gears and shift like people’s perception of you. Except when you drop an album out of nowhere. That’s like a full on House record. And people are like, What do I do with this? And I’m like, Oh, wow, I’ve been surprised by Drake precisely at a moment when I thought he was incapable of ever again, surprising. And so I’m on the board, if purely for the reason of listen to you like this, really, this? This is a whole different way of being for Drake. I like that sounds exciting to me. So I’m on board. I’m on board.
Traci Thomas 44:03
Okay. I’ll take it. I’ll allow that
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 44:05
to you. Are you? Are you anti? That? I’m thinking about it? No, I’m not. Do you hate it? I’m
Traci Thomas 44:09
not anti. No, I just don’t think it’s that good of an album personally. Like, it’s just like, sort of like, I think I told you this before, but I used to teach spin. So I listen to a lot of music like that, like that has that sound and like long songs that I’ve got driving beat and like, they’re just not particularly good to me for what they are? Yeah, I do think that part of the issue with Drake, which is a little bit to what you were speaking to, is like, Drake hasn’t really been a hip hop artist for a long time. And I think he’s always sort of been a pop artist. And I think that if people thought about him more as pop and less about life as hip hop, which of course has a lot to do with racism and the ways that black people are pigeon holed in certain genres. I don’t think it’s Drake’s fault necessarily, but I’ve always thought of him as a pop person since after his first album basically, like, he makes pop music and his first album is pop too. Girl. And also like, you can make the argument that a lot of hip hop and rap is pop music. Yeah, but I just think like this album makes a lot more sense in the line of pop artists than it does in the line of like a hip hop artist.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 45:13
But like that’s what’s kind of interesting to me about Drake is that like he is a product of hip hop kind of does thronging every other kind of Yes, type of music at the top of the pop food chain, right, like, you don’t get a Drake unless you have put in the hours to be like, rock can move out of the way even just like straight up melodic pop can move out of the way. And Hip Hop can become like a giant machine that it is like every once in awhile, you’ll see an artist go to the top of the charts. And you’re like, I have no idea who the fuck this is, like people woke up in the morning of like, young boy fucking never broke again was the top of the charts. And we were like, who is how does this have what’s a
Traci Thomas 45:50
jack Harlow? That was a surprise for me. I was like, I don’t really get that. Yeah. I never I don’t know if I’ve heard Jack Harlow until I heard what the does he is he the one who sampled fabulous or whatever? Yeah. First glamorous, glamorous. Yeah. glamorous.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 46:05
Had no idea what’s poppin like that wasn’t on your radar.
Traci Thomas 46:10
I might have I just didn’t know I don’t have a song. I don’t know any song names. And I don’t know a lot of artists names until it gets to the Grammys. And then I’m like, Oh, she’s so cute. Look at her and her dress she sings. Like I had heard do a leap up for way longer than I knew. Who do elite bullets. I can imagine like I knew her music. But I didn’t I could not have told you who sang a lot of those songs. Oh, yeah, that’s fair. That’s fair. But I do feel like you’re right, like Drake. I think Drake rode the hip hop coattails to the top. But I don’t think Drake is truly a hip hop artist. To me. I think he’s a pop star. And like that’s not to denigrate pop or hip hop. That’s just to say that he’s a pop star who is influenced by hip hop music.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 46:53
What is it? Have you checked your watch? Is it already gate? Deep o’clock? Is that where we’re at? You know, I mean, like, what is? No,
Traci Thomas 46:58
I just I don’t know, I don’t mean that he can’t be a hip hop artist. I just mean if people thought about people are like, Oh, what is this house music from a hip hop die. But I’m like, you just thought about him as a pop star. It doesn’t feel as hard to make the jump. Right, you know? Yeah, exactly. But Donna has like a hip hop album or something, you know, and it’s like, that’s not a problem. Like Michael Jackson did rock and pop. And like, if you think of these people as high as pop stars, I guess it’s the opposite of gatekeeping. I’m saying Drake can move between these spaces. And he’s not just quote unquote,
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 47:35
Drake, let Drake do whatever he wants to do.
Traci Thomas 47:37
Just let Drake be sad. Be a sad boy in any genre he wants. Oh, he
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 47:42
will he that he’ll find a way he will take that permission and he will use it over and over and over. You’ll
Traci Thomas 47:48
run with it. Okay, we got so off bucks. We’re so deep into Drake. I love it. I’m fine with it. I mean, your fellow Canadian.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 47:56
Mm. My fellow Toronto boy. 100%. Yeah. Congratulations
Traci Thomas 48:00
to Drake on your new album. We okay, we speaking of hip hop, are you familiar with the new Jonathan Abrams book that’s coming out called the come up? It’s an oral history of hip hop music.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 48:13
No, that sounds delightful. I love that.
Traci Thomas 48:16
Yeah, it’s coming out in October. I’m very excited about it.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 48:19
How hard is it go back like,
Traci Thomas 48:21
I Well, I think it’s like the 50th anniversary of hip hop music is this fall or something? So I think it’s gonna be 50 full years.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 48:29
I love that I like that’s something that for me is like, I would love to spend my time on that. You know, that sounds right.
Traci Thomas 48:34
I just got the arc. And it’s big. It’s a big boy. It’s it’s large. It’s large and in charge.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 48:41
Because we’re in a moment of good hip hop books do man like Daniel Becker? Did he live in Becker wrote this great book called what’s good. And it’s like, I think for subtitles notes on rap and language, but he’s a he’s, he’s like a linguist by training. And so he spends a lot of time just like on the linguistic elements of like, big hip hop songs. And he kind of breaks them down in ways that I just hadn’t thought about them. So that’s such a good book. It’s such a good book.
Traci Thomas 49:08
We’ve been on this show. We’ve been recently really into music. Sometimes like this podcast, we’ll just have a theme for a while and great now we’re in like a black music moment. We had Danielle Smith on the show about her book shine bright. LED jumped and Taylor is on. Yeah. About his book on biggie. You’re here, even though I didn’t invite you as a music person. You are, obviously. So there’s lots of music stuff. I’m excited about it.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 49:39
Okay, have you done? Have you done like musician like memoirs, have you done like a period of that?
Traci Thomas 49:46
So in 2020, we did Marcus J. Moore’s book on Kendrick Lamar, the butterfly effect with Cole Kushner, another podcaster, who breaks down songs and music so he was our guest for that book club and Then we did. We haven’t actually done like a famous person’s memoir, like we haven’t done Mariah Carey, or Lenny Kravitz or something. But we’ve done a few books on music.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 50:12
Okay. I mean, it’s, it’s a whole genre with a lot of amazing possibilities in that genre I recommend. Brand new Carlisle’s memoir brand. Carla is an artist that means a lot to me.
Traci Thomas 50:26
What if I don’t know her music? Because that would be a true thing about me that I don’t know her music?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 50:31
I don’t think you have to. I don’t think it’s important for your music. I think like she I think she just has a really compelling journey. But also, I highly recommend that you get to know her music. She’s incredible. She’s got a voice. It’s like, unmatched by anyone on Earth. It’s incredible stuff.
Traci Thomas 50:45
I’ll give it a listen. I’ll give it a try. Yeah, I’ll give anything a listen. Who knows? Okay, what are some other books that you’re looking forward to reading, they don’t have to be new books that could just be books that you’ve been wanting to read.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 50:57
I’ve been subtly and then eventually unsettling, like dropping hints to my wife to be like, hey, I really want to read the company, which is like this history of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Which is like an old British sort of trading corporation that then became like the Bay, which is like one of the largest sort of retailers here in Canada, because like the company, the company, Hudson’s Bay Company goes back to like, 1670, or something. And I’m interested in the ways that it’s like inter woven with like Canadian colonialism. Because we are, I think in like a really powerful moment of trying to understand colonialism in Canada, the ways we’ve been treated indigenous people in this country and its history. And like, this book is like this, like thick, long history of like, you want to know how Canada became the way that it became like, here’s like, here’s a corporation that just eventually got way too much political power, and got a chance to, like, carve up so much of the country according to how we want to do. And then like, kind of like, trace a line between that and the modern day. And so I’m excited to dive into that one, man, because I think I’m like in this one. Okay. All right, give me some history books about colonialism in this country. I also got this book that’s like, it’s like, literally just a history of the Yukon Gold Rush. Because, like, I don’t know anything about a gold rush. Can anyone fill me in? And then like this book comes along, it’s called gold diggers, which is like not a particularly complicated name to remember. It’s a book about people who dig for gold, you know, but it’s, it’s by an incredible author who has done like a lot of significant histories in this country. And so, I don’t know, I’m excited to dive into those. But I’m not someone who reads a lot of like, historical nonfiction. So this is like, new for me to be like, let’s go back to the 1700s and spend some time with this. So let’s go.
Traci Thomas 52:49
Okay, here’s my question, though. You said that you’ve been dropping hints to your wife that you want to read this book? Is that because you want her to get it for you? Or because you want her to give you time alone with the book?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 52:57
No, it’s the first it’s a it’s I specifically. I mean, I was saying it because like, it’s a big book. And I was like, I don’t want to go to the bookstore and carried all the way home. I wish it manifests itself just like at home, you know? And so for like, literally, a week for Father’s Day is like, you know, really excited for Father’s Day. I’d hope you didn’t get me anything, but most especially hope you didn’t get me that company. A History of the house is vacant. And I think like after the eighth time, she was like, I might have to get it for him. I think he means that she
Traci Thomas 53:27
got it. Did you get a hell? Yes.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 53:29
She did. Okay, yeah. Okay.
Traci Thomas 53:30
It’s Emily. I told you she’s a lover. Well, yes. Okay. So excited.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 53:34
It’s great. It’s gonna be good time, my God.
Traci Thomas 53:37
Okay. What’s a book that you like to recommend recommend to other people?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 53:44
Oh, and I feel bad for getting lost by it because on it. It’s a nonfiction, it’s a collection of essays about all the different ways we can interpret the idea of getting lost. Whether it’s losing yourself, losing yourself and another person, or the idea of being lost in a in a bad way. And idea of that go that that person doesn’t know how to find their way back to themselves. There’s, there’s all kinds of iterations of loss and getting lost in that book, and how sometimes it can be a beautiful thing and sometimes how it can be a devastating thing. I don’t know if I would write without Rebecca Solnit. And I don’t know if I would write without a field guide to getting lost. So I would say that one shadow because on it. I think another one if I were to recommend to would be maybe they can’t kill us until they kill us by Hanif abdurraqib. And no one no one writes like Hanif man, nobody. Nobody writes about music like her name. Nobody writes about anything like Hanif. So those are the two
Traci Thomas 54:51
we’ve done his back on the show we did a little devil. Yeah, I was gonna call it notes on performance. I was like that is the worst title All enemies would kill me if he thought that I thought creative as he could get notes on perform. Yeah, yeah, we did a little devil on the show. And it was a dream was one of my favorite books of last year actually, part of the reason I picked up your book out of all the stacks is because he had blurbed it and it’s on the cover. And I was like, wow, if he needs signs off, he’s got a fantastic taste and he doesn’t blurb that much.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 55:21
Nobody really does it. I was really, really grateful for his generous words. Man, that was really kind of him for sure.
Traci Thomas 55:27
Okay. Do you have a favorite bookstore?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 55:31
I have a few. But let’s, let’s let’s go with like, they’re all in Toronto. So like they’re all you know, that all sort of like local, local Chateau Toronto bookstores, but I think let me go with another story and other stories like a beautifully curated bookshop, that as you kind of walk into it, you’re like, ah, all these books can be home type books, which now have like, multiple locations, and I’m really happy for them. But like type books on Queen Street in downtown Toronto, like that’s the one No, yeah, that’s, that’s the one where like, you kind of like go in and you’re like, I’m gonna unearth a treasure today. And then you do and the you like, this is what a bookstore is supposed to feel like. So those are the two
Traci Thomas 56:14
Yeah, about that. Okay, what’s the last book that made you laugh?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 56:20
I would say rap capital that joke Oscar le book that we’re talking about? Because Atlanta can be heartbreaking, but also it can be really really funny. Like there are some incredible characters are like, well, what’s the hell’s going on here? I love to meet these people. Great.
Traci Thomas 56:35
Last book that made you cry
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 56:39
Rachel Cusk but second place her most recent novel. There are some genuinely heartbreaking turns in that book.
Traci Thomas 56:47
Last book that made you angry
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 56:50
Don’t get angry man. Tracy. Come on, you know we talked about
Traci Thomas 56:55
I’m getting angry.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 56:57
You’re getting angry. Yeah, but like that sounds like it happens often. You know, the bees? Know I’m drinking. Okay, this book that I’m reading about? Kid ate? Are you a Radiohead person or No?
Traci Thomas 57:09
No. I like creep. Like everyone,
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 57:13
I love this. I really like creep, but then it stops. Okay, so I am, I would say like, I’m a medium person, medium Radiohead person. But this is book about Kid A, which is like their album from 2001 or 2000. I can’t remember. And it’s like a really divisive album because like very like intense Radiohead people are like, this is when Radiohead became Radiohead, and then others are like, I think it’s just kind of a pretentious record. That’s not that accessible. I don’t know why we were so excited about celebrating this album. And I’m reading this book by Steven Hayden, who is firmly in the camp of this is when Radiohead became Radiohead. And it’s a book about Kid A and the making of the 21st century. I think that’s like the subtitle of it. And I think I got angry sometimes not at Steven Hayden so much as specifically at like, the ways that Radiohead want you to bristle when you’re listening to their music, like shouldn’t music make you feel like this? Like should we be this tense when we’re listening to music? But I’m, I’m wrestling with that because I’m firmly in the camp of Kid A is like a pretentious, more pretentious album than not. There are some songs that are really on that record. But I don’t think we need to, like vault this into like their most perfect album. But because I think that I’m trying to like read people who challenge my perspectives on this. And so I’m reading this book, and I’m getting mad as I read it. So like, maybe that counts.
That counts that Traci, like yes, getting angry this the more that this is
Traci Thomas 58:38
the way I like to read. I’m like, Oh, let me find someone who’s totally wrong. And then enjoy how much hate them forever. Sure. Yeah, of course.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 58:45
What totally normal thing to go to a bookstore. I love it.
Traci Thomas 58:50
Yeah, I’m, I have a super normal reading habits. What’s a book where you felt like you learned a lot.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 58:58
Emma Healy wrote this incredible book called best young woman job book. That’s the title, I really have a hard time remembering all of it. And it’s like her account of trying to make it as a writer while also working at a bookstore while also working in a bunch of unpredictable kind of precarious gig economy works. And it was such a pleasure to spend time with all the things I didn’t expect to in that book.
Traci Thomas 59:24
Okay, I teased this way earlier. What book is your problematic favorite?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 59:30
I don’t know if I have a problematic favorite either.
Traci Thomas 59:33
Do you mean you have to love something that you know is like
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 59:37
I think there are writers that I can’t talk about anymore. But tell us about the books but the books like don’t the books stand the test of time like I don’t do parties? I know I really I really don’t I don’t go to parties and go man, it’s complicated struggle but no Norman Mailer, you know, but but, but it is
Traci Thomas 1:00:04
I read executioner song and it does not stand the test of time.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:00:08
I haven’t read execution of song is it? So? I
Traci Thomas 1:00:10
don’t know. I don’t know, I just wasn’t now the way yet, but now the way like true crime is it’s sort of as a dud, it’s like, a little slow.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:00:20
I haven’t I don’t know, I wouldn’t I literally wouldn’t know because I haven’t read it. But, um, but I guess maybe in that regard, like Norman Mailer might be my problematic Fave author in that way. But like,
Traci Thomas 1:00:33
that’s a good answer.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:00:34
But I continue to say like, it’s not like I’m walking around me like, Yeah, have you read? Because I don’t, you don’t go to parties and say that because like this guy, woof. Real problematic. Just like as a figure. Yeah. And so. But like, No, there’s no specific book that I’m like, let me just let me just hide this from people.
Traci Thomas 1:00:51
I feel like I should put what is your problematic favorite? Or who because I feel like both answers are acceptable. Usually, yeah, you should put who I should update. I should update. Yeah. Okay. If you are a high school teacher, what’s a book you would assign to your students?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:01:09
I love that question. I’m changing my mind by Zadie Smith. I think you may have gathered that I read a lot of nonfiction. I’m changing my mind as I love this is a collection of essays that Zadie Smith put out that’s about just that about, you know, having a certain perspective, and then the experiences life experiences that made her change it. I think, grown ups if you will tend to present as a little bit too neat in their way they develop their tastes and their opinions. And like, none of it was that neat. And so often, we kind of go through something that makes us go, oh, I completely see this in a different light. And I think I’ve was fortunate enough to have teachers that did that for me when I was younger. So as a result, I would want younger people to have that demonstrated, I think she demonstrates it so beautifully in that book.
Traci Thomas 1:02:08
I love that. Okay, last one. But I don’t know if I have to change it because you’re Canadian. So I’m gonna ask it and then you can tell me who you’d like to do it for. So the question is, if you could require the current president of the United States to read one book, what would it be? But do you want to change it and do it for J T?
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:02:30
My good man, JT. Can you imagine if we refer to our prime minister as JT, can you like,
Traci Thomas 1:02:36
Well, we do here in America. We love a JT Justin Timberlake, Justin Trudeau, we just Justin Tansley. We love adjusted tea.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:02:44
I love that. Wow. I never thought about recommending a book for the Prime Minister.
Traci Thomas 1:02:50
Is it a prime minister? Is that a prime minister? How do you say? Well, I say Prime Minister, but you said Prime Minister.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:02:58
I see. Well, I think it depends on the day for me. I don’t think a marriage was specific.
Traci Thomas 1:03:02
I wasn’t sure I don’t know. I’m not Canadian. I don’t know how you guys do things. Americans we fucking shit up all the time.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:03:07
No, but I but I literally can’t tell if it’s like me speaking that way. Because I aced my second language or not, you know me like it’s literally sure it could be that you don’t like It’s like is that I think I just kind of grew up talking like this, because that’s how we talked. But I have no idea whether that’s correct or not.
Traci Thomas 1:03:27
Okay, well, I don’t know, either. So you’re since you’re the Canadian, I’m gonna defer to you. I’m gonna go Prime Minister, Prime Minister.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:03:35
Well, that book for the Prime Minister. They recommend a Canadian author. Sure, read them online, she’s written some incredible works, what the one I’d recommend is maybe empire of wild is a really compelling book that’s about a an indigenous person who sort of suddenly realizes that they maybe are giving up a little bit too much of their land. And the forces that come with that are here most well known book is the marrow thieves, which is like a sort of futuristic dystopian novel that people can’t stop talking about, like it’s come out like maybe like six or seven years ago, but people that continue to love it so much. But empire of wild is like just like a little bit more intimate. It’s a little bit more complicated. And it’s about not just about colonialism, but also about the ways that you can sometimes maybe kind of call it as yourself, you know, and the consequences thereof. And so maybe that would be my choice.
Traci Thomas 1:04:36
Love it. Yeah. Okay. Justin Trudeau. Let us know what you think of our recommendation. Let’s go. Everybody else we’re out of here today, but el Amin will be back on July 27. We are discussing season of migration to the north. And can you how do I say his last name to sully
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:04:57
plebe, Sally is how I would say it is how I answered,
Traci Thomas 1:05:00
but you say it again. How would you say it? By you, Sally? Tell you absolutely.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:05:05
Yeah. Close enough, man. We’ll take it.
Traci Thomas 1:05:08
We’ll take it. Anyways. It’s super short. It’s a slim novel. It’s a. It’s the Sudanese novel you ask the people who decide these things. So yeah, we’re going to discuss that on the 27th. There will be spoilers, plenty of them. So please read the book before then. And also gotten Get your copy, which is Elamin’s book, which is out in the world. I mean, thank you so much for being here.
Elamin Abdelmahmoud 1:05:32
My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Traci Thomas 1:05:34
And everyone else we will see you in the Stacks.
Alright, y’all, that does it for us today. Thank you so much to Elamin for being my guest. And I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Abdi, Omar and Taylor in a while for helping to make this episode possible. Reminder this tax book club pick for July is season of migration to the north by tyabb Sully, which we will be discussing on July 27, with El Amin Abdel Mahmoud. If you love the show and what inside access to it, head to patreon.com/the stocks to join the stock spot. Make sure you’re subscribed to the stocks wherever you’re listening to podcasts. And if you’re listening through Apple podcasts or Spotify, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stocks follow us on social media at the stocks pod on Instagram and Apple stocks pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stocks podcast.com This episode of the stacks was edited by Cristian Duenas with production assistants from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin MacWrite. the stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.
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