What It Means to Be American

Roya Hakakian on a Beginner's Guide to America

Roya Hakakian is the author, most recently, of A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO AMERICA. This fascinating book, structured as a practical guide to life here, is a profound meditation on what it means to be — and to become — an American. To use one of Hakakian’s preferred terms, it is a book about “arrival.” We spoke with her about A BEGINNER’S GUIDE, her own experience as an immigrant from Iran, and how and why immigration is central both to our debate around identity and to the political meaning of our nation. As the year comes to a close, there’s no better way to reflect on the difficulties of the past and our hopes for the future.