Tag Archives: Community Reading Project

Author of ‘The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas’ to visit March 22 & 23

By Jennifer Jameslyn, GVSU


Interested in attending the author lectures, or meeting the author? Anand Giridharadas will be giving two public lectures:


March 22, 7 pm, Herrick District Library in Holland, Michigan


March 23, 7 pm, Grand River Room, Kirkhof Center, GVSU Allendale campus


Grand Valley State University’s Community Reading Project is a signature program of  Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. Each year, the project selects one book to explore through discussion, co-curricular programming, classroom study and hands-on experiences in the Grand Rapids community. The year culminates in a visit from the author.


This year’s selection is The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas, by Anand Giridharadas.


Imagine that a terrorist tried to kill you. If you could face him again, on your terms, what would you do? The True American tells the story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who dreams of immigrating to America and working in technology. But days after 9/11, an avowed “American terrorist” named Mark Stroman, seeking revenge, walks into the Dallas minimart where Bhuiyan has found temporary work and shoots him, maiming and nearly killing him. Two other victims, at other gas stations, aren’t so lucky, dying at once.


The True American traces the making of these two men, Stroman and Bhuiyan, and of their fateful encounter. It follows them as they rebuild shattered lives—one striving on Death Row to become a better man, the other to heal and pull himself up from the lowest rung on the ladder of an unfamiliar country.


Ten years after the shooting, an Islamic pilgrimage seeds in Bhuiyan a strange idea: if he is ever to be whole, he must reenter Stroman’s life. He longs to confront Stroman and speak to him face to face about the attack that changed their lives. Bhuiyan publicly forgives Stroman, in the name of his religion and its notion of mercy. Then he wages a legal and public-relations campaign, against the State of Texas and Governor Rick Perry, to have his attacker spared from the death penalty.


Ranging from Texas’s juvenile justice system to the swirling crowd of pilgrims at the Hajj in Mecca; from a biker bar to an immigrant mosque in Dallas; from young military cadets in Bangladesh to elite paratroopers in Israel; from a wealthy household of chicken importers in Karachi, Pakistan, to the sober residences of Brownwood, Texas, The True American is a rich, colorful, profoundly moving exploration of the American dream in its many dimensions. Ultimately it tells a story about our love-hate relationship with immigrants, about the encounter of Islam and the West, about how—or whether—we choose what we become.


Watch the author’s TED talk here to get an overview of the events of the book and their connection to present day issues:


You can participate in a virtual book discussion led by GVSU Brooks College alum Ashley Nickels here.


Check out the author’s most recent article, connecting the events of True American to the tragic shootings of two Indian immigrants in Kansas here.