Your Sept. 4 story about reaction in the Somali community to my book “Call Me American” includes significant inaccuracies and mistaken identities that compromise the basic premise of the piece.

Mohamed Awil and Yusuf Yusuf – the two men interviewed in your story, described as former roommates unhappy with my portrayal of them – are in fact not mentioned in my book. The roommates in my book are Mohamed H. and Yusuf G. (I did not publish their surnames to protect their privacy, but I will add surname initials in this letter to distinguish them from the two men in your story.)

Mohamed H. is described in my book as a Portland taxi driver (not a Walmart employee, as your article states), which is true. Yusuf G. did work at Walmart, as I wrote. Neither man speaks passable English and could not have been interviewed by your reporter without an interpreter.

The two people interviewed for your story do speak English, and are known to me. Mr. Awil lives (or lived) in Lewiston and was an occasional overnight guest in the Portland apartment. Mr. Yusuf moved to Portland from Seattle as I was finishing the book; he was briefly a tenant in our apartment last year. Again, neither man is described in my book, so any suggestion that I portrayed them inaccurately is false.

Both of those men are friends of Abdullahi Ali, the former roommate included in a photo in your article who did not speak on the record. Mr. Ali and I corresponded through my publisher in the weeks before the article ran, and I explained the mistaken identities to him then, but it seems he chose not to share that information with your reporter.

Despite the many good times we shared in that apartment, Mr. Ali appears to hold a grudge against me for reasons that are unclear. He has been organizing disruptions at my speaking events, and petitioning news organizations with his unfounded claims. This saddens me, as I have very good relationships with the Somali community in Maine and many other states.

Nevertheless, it has been my experience that first-generation Somali immigrants, like other immigrants, do not generally assimilate. This is an observation, not a judgment, rooted in human nature. As I point out in my book, it is the children of those immigrants who most often adopt American culture and values. Of course there are many exceptions; indeed, my book is about my own personal exception. The book also profiles many Somali-Americans who have chosen to pursue the American dream and are embracing Western society and values.

Abdi Nor Iftin

Freeport