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)


The US–Saudi Story, Through the Eyes of an Aramco ‘Brat’

A view of the Aramco oil refinery in Saudi Arabia, 1990

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.