“I was thinking Ohio was as good a place as any, that Ohio was neutral, like Switzerland, that you could wipe the slate clean in Ohio,” says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the narrator in Imad Rahman’s story collection I Dream of Microwaves (2004).
Abdul-Jabbar is a struggling actor of Pakistani descent, though often typecast as Indian or Latino. He drifts in and out of Ohio, from gig to gig, both acting and non-acting. In the title story, he is arrested at a bus station after being (mis)identified as a child murderer he played for America’s Most Wanted. In “Eating, Ohio,” he dresses as Zorro to promote Zima at a sports bar. In “All Roads Lead to Flesh and Bone,” he is a “pretend patient” at a university hospital in Florida.
For Arts Cleveland, he described his fiction as dealing “with sociopolitical issues in our charged post-9/11 world. My characters tend to be uncomfortable in their own skins as a result of being displaced—from their birthplaces, their families, each other. [My work] can empower other writers with immigrant backgrounds to be able to write about the world as they perceive and experience it in a unique, idiosyncratic manner.”
Rahman has received awards from the Ohio Arts Council and Cuyahoga County Arts and Culture and teaches at Cleveland State University.
If you enjoyed I Dream of Microwaves, we suggest these Ohio side trips: