Yemeni coffee importer shares daring, miraculous journey

Museum Store presents 1st Book + Print Festival April 6

April 12 book launch for Beydoun’s American Islamophobia

Dearborn, Mich. (March 5, 2018) – In 2015, a California man named Mokhtar Alkhanshali made headlines when he undertook a journey to ancient farmlands in a country soon to be convulsed by civil war and famine. Alkhanshali brought back with him what he called a miracle, and perhaps the most universally consumed staple – coffee. From Yemen, the country of his birth and the historic first home of purposefully cultivated coffee, he brought the beans that led him to his life’s work, founding the Oakland, Calif.-based coffee company Port of Mokha.

Along the way, Alkhanshali turned over his own narrative to one of America’s most skillful storytellers. The Monk of Mokha is the latest book by Dave Eggers (What is the What; Zeitoun). It chronicles the true story of Alkhanshali, an apartment-building doorman who became one of California’s most-qualified coffee roasters (qahwagee in Arabic) and importer of exquisite Yemeni beans.

Alkanshali will read from The Monk of Mokha at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in a program presented by the Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Centerat the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. Attendees at this free-with-RSVP event will enjoy Yemeni coffee service; copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

“Mokhtar approaches coffee from a socially conscious perspective,” says Kirsten Terry-Murphy, AANM librarian. “He’s deeply connected with farmers in Yemen and is bringing attention to the process and cultural significance of cultivating coffee beans. Although he’s a young guy, he’s already developed a growing business and had life-changing experiences – it’s easy to see why Dave Eggers chose to write a book about him.”

In addition to Alkhanshali, March and April bring a variety of free-admission literary events for various ages to the Museum’s Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center and The AANM Store. See the list below for times, dates and RSVP links.

From 3-9 p.m. Friday, April 6, browse a curated selection of books by and about Arabs and Arab Americans, along with art prints, zines and more, at the inaugural Book + Print Festival presented by The AANM Store and the Growth Center @ AANM. Enjoy special savings on prints by artists who have exhibited at AANM and winning titles from the Arab American Book Award program. Local artisans will offer their wares, among them members of Art Babes – the Detroit-based intersectional collective – and Big Mouth Press & Comix, founded by Leila Abdelrazaq. Watch a screen printing demonstration and purchase a tee shirt or tote bag on site to have it screen printed while you wait. Detroit’s Ocelot Print Shop is also supporting this event. Admission is free; vendor tables are $40. Vendors should apply at

In his new book, Khaled Beydoun, critical race theorist and law professor at University of Detroit Mercy, captures the many ways in which law, policy and official state rhetoric have fueled a resurgence of Islamophobia in the United States. At 6 p.m. Thursday, April 12, Beydoun will discuss his new work, American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear, in a Q&A with Matthew Jaber Stiffler, AANM’s research and content manager. Copies of the book will be available for sale and author signing following the talk. Admission is free with RSVP.

Syrian American author and scholar Mohja Kahf (Emails from Scheherazad; The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf) will read and perform from Hagar Poems at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 24. A 2017 Honorable Mention in the Arab American Book Awards, Hagar Poems is a compelling shakeup of not only Hagar’s story but also of current roles of all kinds of women in all kinds of relationships. The reading will be followed by book sales and signing. Admission is free with RSVP.

Children ages 2-6 and their parents are invited to attend Bilingual Storytime in the Ebeid Library on the fourth Saturday of the month, through April. A storyteller will read picture books in both English and Arabic, teaching a few Arabic words and phrases. Following the story, there will be time for free play, crafts or games in the Library. Thanks to a partnership with Maktabatee – the online boutique for Arabic children’s books, toys and educational materials – attendees will be eligible to win one of several Arabic children’s books during the final storytime of the season on April 28. Admission is free with RSVP.

As part of the citywide literary event The Big Read – Dearborn, the Ebeid Library will host a pair of events around this year’s book, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. The question of “what’s in a name?” is neither easily answered nor easily dismissed in Lahiri’s book about Gogol Ganguli, an American born of Bengali parentage bearing a Russian writer’s surname. Straddling two generations, two cultures and with two first names, Gogol moves through life with a sense he never quite fits in. His quiet angst and personal questioning almost derail him, careening – like the train that links him to his father and his destiny – from relationship to relationship.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, March 29, explore Michigan Avenue’s arts district through the lens of immigration and identity, key themes featured in The Namesake. This event begins with a guided visit to American Landscape: An Exploration of Art and Humanity by Nabil Mousa in AANM’s Main Floor Gallery. Guests will then walk across the street to tour an artist’s studio in Dearborn’s City Hall Artspace Lofts.

At noon Wednesday, April 4, AANM offers a librarian-led community discussion of The Namesake, delving into Lahiri’s understated exploration of identity and cultural assimilation as well as the colors, flavors and textures of immigrant Indian life in America.

Questions about these programs and all Library offerings may be directed to Librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy or 313.624.0223.

nballout or 313.624.0226. Vendors wishing to purchase a table should visit


Coffee & Conversation: An Evening with Mokhtar Alkhanshali

6 p.m. Wednesday, March 7


Book + Print Festival

3-9 p.m. Friday, April 6

FREE admission

English-Arabic Storytime for ages 2-6

10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 24


An Evening with Poet Mohja Kahf

6 p.m. Saturday, March 24


Dearborn’s 2018 Big Read

Gallery/Studio Walk: Immigration from an Artist’s Perspective

6 p.m. Thursday, March 29


Community Discussion: Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake

Noon Wednesday, April 4


Book Launch Party: Khaled Beydoun’s American Islamophobia

6 p.m. Thursday, April 12


English-Arabic Storytime for ages 2-6

10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 28


Questions about these programs and all Library offerings may be directed to Librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy or 313.624.0223.

Book + Print Festival inquiries, please contact Store Manager Nour Ballout at nballout or 313.624.0226. Vendors wishing to purchase a table should visit



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