American Dervish

Ayad Akhtar

American Dervish

Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother's beautiful, brilliant friend is a family legend. When he learns that Mina is leaving Pakistan to live with the Shahs in America, Hayat is thrilled. Hayat's father is less enthusiastic. Ever wary of fundamentalism, he doesn't relish the idea of Mina's fervid devotion under his roof. What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty of the Quran, it will utterly transform him. Mina's real magic may be that the Shah household becomes a happy one. But when Mina catches the eye of a Jewish doctor and family friend, Hayat's jealousy is enflamed by the community's anti-Semitism - and he acts with catastrophic consequences for those he loves most. 3.8 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
American Dervish

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 368
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication January 2012
ISBN 978-0297865445
Publisher W&N
 

Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother's beautiful, brilliant friend is a family legend. When he learns that Mina is leaving Pakistan to live with the Shahs in America, Hayat is thrilled. Hayat's father is less enthusiastic. Ever wary of fundamentalism, he doesn't relish the idea of Mina's fervid devotion under his roof. What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty of the Quran, it will utterly transform him. Mina's real magic may be that the Shah household becomes a happy one. But when Mina catches the eye of a Jewish doctor and family friend, Hayat's jealousy is enflamed by the community's anti-Semitism - and he acts with catastrophic consequences for those he loves most.

Reviews

The Los Angeles Times

Lorraine Ali

Akhtar's beautifully written coming-of-age novel follows Hayat, the only child of immigrants, through the confusion of pre-pubescent boyhood and the trials that a mixed cultural identity brings. Growing up in the rural-westerly suburbs of 1980's Milwaukee, he is systematically shunned, verbally abused and openly ridiculed for his faith — and that's all before stepping out of his dysfunctional home and into his largely Anglo, Christian surroundings.

20/01/2012

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The New York Times

Adam Langer

What a pleasure to encounter a first novel as self-assured and effortlessly told as Ayad Akhtar’s “American Dervish.” Mr. Akhtar, a first-generation Pakistani-American, has written an immensely entertaining coming-of-age story set during the early 1980s among the Pakistanis in the author’s hometown, Milwaukee.

04/01/2012

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The Times

Kate Saunders

A terrific first novel, warm and wise.

21/01/2012

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The Washington Post

Wendy Smith

… Wonderful … The final 100 pages are tainted with melodrama, but Akhtar by and large makes the story work. His complicated, conflicted characters are not helpless victims; they make irrevocable mistakes and do dreadful things, but Akhtar encourages us to understand and forgive.

06/01/2012

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The Daily Express

Roddy Ashworth

It is a striking book, seemingly effortlessly written and certainly easily read which, for the complex themes it explores, is no mean feat.

29/01/2012

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The Financial Times

Alice Albinia

There is, however, serious intent behind this melodrama. A letter from the author to “Dear Reader” explains how: “Growing up ... I was always aware that my classmates and friends ... had no idea what to make of Islam ... They’d never been exposed to it. I wanted to write a book that gave the American audience a felt sense of what it was like to grow up a Muslim in America.” But there is something odd about a novel that declares it will open “a window on to the vibrant and complex reality of Islam in this country” – and then tries to make believers look like hypocrites or benighted fools.

10/02/2012

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The Guardian

Catherine Taylor

Both extremists and the ambivalent are accorded even-handed coverage, and the characterisation is strong, yet Akhtar's cheerfully simplistic prose style seems incongruous in the light of the incendiary subject matter.

27/01/2012

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