Excerpt from The International Bank of Bob by Bob Harris, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The International Bank of Bob

Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at a Time

by Bob Harris

The International Bank of Bob
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2013, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2014, 416 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Bouchra concludes her translation. There is a pause.

Mohammad turns to me, a proud smile forming. Shukran, he says, looking me straight in the eye. This is Arabic for "thank you." I touch my heart respectfully with my right hand. We stand in silence, holding eye contact for a second. The need for a translator momentarily disappears.
The crowd behind me has grown, although I don't know that yet.

So is Mohammed's business doing well? Of course, he tells me through Bouchra, his tone gently chiding me for the silly question.

After twelve years in business, and after successfully borrowing and repaying seven cycles of small loans over the last five years, Mohammed now does more than shepherd his three kids through school: his shop has grown to employ two permanent staff members, plus several part-time helpers. He has also upgraded and diversified his equipment, enabling his staff to handle virtually any job that comes in. His eighth loan is five times larger than his first, and Mohammed hopes soon to expand his business even further, benefiting not just his own family, but his entire neighborhood.

When I was a boy, this was called the American Dream. Apparently they have something similar here, too.

We talk more about our families, and Mohammed offers to let me work with his tools, maybe spend a few minutes working with him on one of his projects. He seems to assume that since my dad was mechanically inclined, I must be, too. Oh, dear. Thank you, I'm honored. But I might break something. Possibly my own fingers.

And then Mohammed and I reach to shake hands.

The palms of Mohammed's hands are covered in grease, so instead of a regular handshake, he presses the back of his hand against mine. It's a polite and playful gesture. I nod and smile appreciatively.

Finally, Mohammad gestures behind me, and I turn, seeing for the first time the large and growing audience I've attracted. Maybe a half-dozen teenage-and-younger males, plus a few passers-by of all ages, are assessing my presence.

Holy crap.

One of the young men steps forward. Bouchra explains that I'm meeting Hamid, Mohammed's son.

Hamid's hands are also dirty, so when I extend my right hand in greeting, Hamid shyly offers the back of his hand, too, just like his father. I'm still awkward about where to put my own hand in response, so I make a joke out of it, and Hamid and I share a fun moment of goofing around, twisting our hands to mime a half dozen possible handshakes.

The other boys start to smile.

High five! I suggest, looking back at Bouchra, wondering if this will need a translation. Thanks to the Internet and the global reach of Western media, it does not. Hamid high-fives me instantly.

Small world.

His friends and I exchange a few high fives, too. Those who are unfamiliar with the technique catch on instantly and join in.

Low five! I continue, and we carry on, enjoying the unexpected novelty of knowing how to greet each other in multiple ways.

Fist bump? I ask, making a fist.

The young men's faces turn curious. Howie Mandel's preferred Deal or No Deal greeting has not yet reached this part of the Arab world.

I bump my own fists together as a demonstration, saying the American slang word dap as I do. The boys smile with a bit of bafflement—They really do this odd gesture in America? Hokay— and join in.

Dap, dap, dap, dap, dap. A few of us even start to giggle.

This is the developing world as experienced not through sensational news reports or pop culture stereotypes, but while I've been actually standing in it.

This is why a half-dozen young men came toward me, fists raised, in Morocco.

Reprinted from The International Bank of Bob by Bob Harris. Copyright © 2013 by Bob Harris. Used by permission of Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury USA

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Kiva.org Online Micro-Lending

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.