One of the hardest things to navigate on this book reviewing journey are those books that just don’t necessarily inspire you but they are feel good books. Simple, easy reads, after long weeks that give some relief from the daily dramatics of life. They are the books I read to give me energy to read the harder, more emotionally draining books. “No Land’s Man” fits exactly this bill.
Through this feel good book, Aasif is able to take the reader through the intricacies of his own life and how they formed his journey to achieving his career goals. Aasif Mandvi also have a very interesting story and background that make his experience growing up rather unique. He speaks of the struggles that face actors everywhere, particularly actors of color who are cast only into very specific roles. Goes to show that stereotypes reign strong still and that breaking out of them is particularly hard. Can we not all just be humans? A silly question to ask of course, given that would require the dismantling of a structure of oppression that has been going strong for so long now. Regardless, it begs the question as to why people of color cannot just be themselves? Why must their identity and their story be so chained to the color of their skin? Why can’t an actor like Aasif not just play a “normal” role? Why must he always play the middle eastern man? Why must he always have an accent? Why must he be the spokesperson for all muslims? White people are seen as individuals, people of color are seen as part of a group of people.
All in all, I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to tell someone to pick up this book, but I do respect the fact that this book adds voice to the otherwise homogeneous narratives that are offered on the struggles of making a career out of acting.