Keija Parssinen is the author of the novels The Ruins of Us (2012) and The Unraveling of Mercy Louis (2015). She has contributed to The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, and The Southern Review, among other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote fellow, she is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Kenyon College. (January 2020)
A running series of brief dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with regular updates from around the world, including Michael Greenberg in Brooklyn, Raquel Salas Rivera in San Juan, Aida Alami in Paris, Rahmane Idrissa in Niamey, Verlyn Klinkenborg in East Chatham, Tolu Ogunlesi in Lagos, Merve Emre in Oxford, Yasmine El Rashidi in Cairo, Keija Parssinen in Granville, E. Tammy Kim in Brooklyn, Adam Foulds in Toronto, Tom Bachtell in Chicago, Ivan Sršen in Zagreb, Sue Halpern in Ripton, Michael S. Roth in Middletown, Ben Mauk in Penang, Martin Filler in Southampton, Eula Biss in Evanston, Richard Ford in East Boothbay, George Weld in Brooklyn, Nilanjana Roy in New Delhi, Ursula Lindsey in Amman, Zoë Schlanger in Brooklyn, Dominique Eddé in Beirut, Lucy McKeon in Brooklyn, Yiyun Li in Princeton, Caitlin L. Chandler in Berlin, Nick Laird in Kerhonkson, Alma Guillermoprieto in Bogotá, Lucy Jakub in Northampton, Rachael Bedard in Brooklyn, Hari Kunzru in Brooklyn, Minae Mizumura in Tokyo, Jenny Uglow in Keswick, Sylvia Poggioli in Rome, and more.
You see, I was a fully indoctrinated company kid; I believed wholeheartedly that the United States and Saudi Arabia had a “special relationship” that ran deeper than oil. For a long time after we moved back to the States, I was angry. I felt bereft. Today, Saudi Arabia feels to me like an estranged father. Someone I love and mistrust simultaneously, whose news I follow at a distance, with a keen interest I’ve tried to quell but can’t. I remain restless, dissatisfied with both of my homelands, critical of how they relate to each other and how they treat their people. Saudis suffer under a despotic regime, but for all of our freedoms, Americans are hardly a happy people.