The Metro: Author highlights diversity, sense of community in Dearborn with book of short stories

Professor Ghassan Zeineddine joined the show to share more details about his book and his connection’s to Michigan’s cultural jewel.

"Dearborn" by Ghassan Zeineddine.

"Dearborn" by Ghassan Zeineddine.

The city of Dearborn — sandwiched between Detroit, Inkster and Downriver — is a major cultural hub for Arab Americans of multiple generations.

Home to more than 100,000 people of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, the rich diversity and history of the city makes it both a captivating place to live and a unique community for a writer to attempt to capture on the page.

In his debut collection of short stories, titled “Dearborn,” former University of Michigan-Dearborn assistant professor Ghassan Zeineddine tries to do just that. Zeineddine joined The Metro on Monday to talk about his inspiration behind the book and his connections to the Dearborn area.

While he didn’t grow up in Dearborn, Zeineddine says he has been interested in the city ever since he was a teenager. Now an assistant professor of creative writing at Oberlin College, Zeineddine said “years later, when I was in graduate school I started researching Arab American literature, and Dearborn often appeared in a lot of the novels I read about. So I did a lot of incredible research and I really became just so fascinated by the city.”

In his book, Zeineddine tries to hold many things together, particularly the ways in which the city seems to exist in dialogue between the things brought here — from Lebanon or Syria or Palestine — with the sports teams and businesses and music animating Detroit and its suburbs.  

Though a work of fiction, real life stories and experiences weave their way into the book, Zeineddine said.

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“I spoke to so many people in the writing of this collection. And it wasn’t to fictionalize anyone’s story, but it was just to kind of gain further insight into the city, into people’s experiences,” Zeineddine said. “So like, every single short story has some kind of roots in me researching the city, talking to people from Dearborn.”

The first short story, “The Actions of Dearborn,” is about a census canvasser knocking doors during the 2020 census count, Zeineddine said. He tried to capture what people were feeling in Dearborn at that moment.  

“So it was just me trying to capture that anxiety, that atmosphere, and I thought, you know, a census taker, if he’s going around the neighborhood he would be able to get a sense of anxiety that everyone is feeling and experiencing at that particular time,” he said.

Use the media player above to hear the full interview with Zeineddine.

More headlines from The Metro on May 6, 2024: 

  • In The Cunning Little Vixen a fox and a forest take center stage in the opera, coming to Detroit May 11-19. Conductor Roberto Kalb and Soprano singing in the title role, Mané Galoyan, joined the show to discuss the upcoming performances.   
  • Detroit Public Theatre is closing its ninth season with a play that takes you back-of-house. “Clyde’s” brings you into the world of formerly incarcerated people working at a sandwich shop.  It was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage and it’s now running at the Detroit Public Theatre through June 2. DPT Co-founder and Direct Courtney Burkett joined The Metro to share more about the production.
  • Passenger Recovery Community Center is one of metro Detroit’s new substance abuse recovery support spaces. It’s free for people in Detroit, Hamtramck, and those strolling through town. Directors Chris Tait and Bryan Wolf told WDET’s Nargis Rahman about how the center uses music and works with musicians toward recovery. 
  • Growing up in the early ’90s in Wisconsin, comedians Nick Prueher and Joe Pickens in their search for entertainment, began collecting random video tapes that ended up being so funny to friends, they eventually made a tour of it. Now known as the Found Footage Festival, the event will head to Planet Ant in Hamtramck on May 12 as part of its 20th anniversary tour. Prueher joined the show to let listeners know what they can expect.

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