Conference Proceeding

Recalling an Arab American Dream: The Story and Legacy of Ameen Rihani’s novel The Book of Khalid and The New York Public Library

This paper presents the life and contributions of Ameen Rihani as a case study of public libraries’ historical efforts in supporting immigrants in America within IFLA’s context of “connections, collaboration and community.” Ameen Rihani (1876-1940) was a Lebanese-born Arab Christian who immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. One known fact was that he frequently visited the New York Public Library (NYPL) where he read many classics and studied English. Hailed as the father of Arab American literature, Rihani wrote The Book of Khalid, which is considered to be the first Arab American Novel in English. The Book of Khalid is a symbol of Rihani’s relationship with the United States and the NYPL, and reflects on the themes of political struggles and cultural challenges of immigration, urban life and authoritarianism that still exist today.