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American Dervish: A Novel | [Ayad Akhtar]

American Dervish: A Novel

Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother's beautiful, brilliant, and soulfully devout 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. He left the fundamentalist world behind with reason. What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty and power of the Quran, it will utterly transform the boy.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Narration by the Author or Authors, 2013

Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother's beautiful, brilliant, and soulfully devout 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. He left the fundamentalist world behind with reason. What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty and power of the Quran, it will utterly transform the boy.

Mina's real magic may be that the Shah household, always contentious and sad, becomes a happy one. But when Mina finds her own path to happiness, the ember of jealousy in Hayat's heart is enflamed by the community's anti-Semitism-and he acts with catastrophic consequences for those he loves most.

©2011 Ayad Akhtar (P)2011 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

" [A] heartfelt first novel.... Akhtar's characters drive a story that's compelling and believable even at its most alien. American Dervish offers a rich look at a nearby world that many Americans don't know nearly enough about." (Entertainment)

"Loss of innocence-sexual, of course, but also cultural and religious-is the subject of Ayad Akhtar's poignant American Dervish, set in a Muslim-American community in the early 1980s.... With characters full of contradictions and complexity, this debut novel is refreshing for its lack of the political and religious hand-wringing so common in the post-9/11 world. But it's also resonantly familiar in its depiction of youthful obsession and the desire to belong." (O, the Oprah Magazine)

"a compelling debut with a family drama centered on questions of religious and ethnic identity.... Engaging and accessible, thoughtful without being daunting: This may be the novel that brings Muslim-American fiction into the commercial mainstream." (Kirkus, Starred Review)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (201 )
5 star
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4.4 (180 )
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Performance
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  •  
    David Ossining, NY, United States 01-24-12
    David Ossining, NY, United States 01-24-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "a complex, rewarding book"
    What about Ayad Akhtar’s performance did you like?

    Because of Mr. Akhtar's background and the fact that he is also a wonderful actor, his performance is completely involving, his accents spot on. You really feel as if you come to know the people inhabiting this book.


    Who was the most memorable character of American Dervish and why?

    The character of Meena, the


    Any additional comments?

    This is a book to live in, full of insights and beautifully told. It's one of the best books I've listened to in ages.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 05-13-12
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 05-13-12 Member Since 2005

    I love books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    448
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    390
    253
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    84
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    "quite the tale"

    A different kind of story for me, about any kind of religion let alone the Mulim faith. A coming of age story that was educatioinal and informational for a non-Muslim like me. Still at its core it was a story about human nautre that could've had any setting for a background. They say, whomver they is, that it takes 3 generations for a family of immigrants to fully assimilate into the American culture. I wonder if that's really true?

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Pittsboro, NC, United States 10-02-12
    Rebecca Pittsboro, NC, United States 10-02-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent insight into an unfamiliar culture"

    First of all, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the author narrated the book. Often, that doesn't seem to work out so well. I loved his interpretation of his auntie's second husband. What I enjoyed most was the insight that I was afforded into a culture that I am, admittedly, very unfamiliar with. I love the narrators' complicated, troubled parents. Actually, I found all of the characters expertly drawn. I felt that occasionally the narrative relied a little too heavily on high drama, bordering on melodrama at times, but this didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of both the book and the performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pat dubus 08-04-12
    pat dubus 08-04-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Compelling performance and story"

    This little novel stunned me into immobility,and until I finished the epiloge I was in the world of Pakistani newcomers in the midwest. When I refer to the novel as "little" I am only referring to its length. It is a powerful big story of family, faith, love, hate and all the universal themes that make good fiction the moral compass for the 21st century. I have searched for a novel that could give the reader a look at what it is like to be a Muslim in America. Although that is too large a task for one little Muslim community, it does give the curious a direction to follow.It doesn't suprise me that the reader is the author.This is one of the most riveting performaces I have ever enjoyed. Please read this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cecilia Arlington, Virginia, United States 07-25-12
    Cecilia Arlington, Virginia, United States 07-25-12 Member Since 2010

    Classical Pianist Wannabe

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Learned a complex culture in a story well told."
    Would you consider the audio edition of American Dervish to be better than the print version?

    I did not read the print version, but I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version. The accents were very real.


    What other book might you compare American Dervish to and why?

    A book such as Avalon might be comparable with its myriad characters and complex personalities as they attempt to adapt to American culture.


    What about Ayad Akhtar’s performance did you like?

    His apparent good accent and appropriate intonations called for in the different settings.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    If one is seeking knowledge about a Muslim family and the impact of their religion on them and the place where they live? This is a very good book for beginners such as I.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lady Lotus Bay Area, CA, United States 02-25-14
    Lady Lotus Bay Area, CA, United States 02-25-14 Member Since 2011

    I love well written books and moving narrators! I am a realism SCI-FI buff. I find non-mushy romance intertwined in a story appealing.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautifully Real!"
    Would you listen to American Dervish again? Why?

    Yes, especially to recapture the nuance of religious history, teaching, beliefs, convictions and the spirit of life dancing throughout harsh reality, innocence, injustice and endings.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The complicated relationship between the beautiful woman, Mina and naive, soul-seeking, Hayat.


    What about Ayad Akhtar’s performance did you like?

    His voice capsulated me and I was there!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes I did have extremes of both laughter and tears!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex TROUTMAN, NORTH CAROLINA, United States 08-15-13
    Alex TROUTMAN, NORTH CAROLINA, United States 08-15-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Worst book i have ever read."
    What disappointed you about American Dervish?

    It really disappointed me how graphic the book became about a child discovering his body. The story was quite bland and lacked anything special. I was required to listen to the book for a class and an F had never sounded more appealing to me.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Ayad Akhtar again?

    No.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Ayad Akhtar’s performances?

    No.


    What character would you cut from American Dervish?

    All of them.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca L. Barbacci Maplewood, NJ, USA 03-14-13
    Rebecca L. Barbacci Maplewood, NJ, USA 03-14-13

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A beautiful story and performance!"
    What did you love best about American Dervish?

    Really enjoyed this story, especially the insight into the Koran from a American Muslim boy's point of view. Great performance!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The Epilogue!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dal CARY, NC, United States 02-01-13
    dal CARY, NC, United States 02-01-13 Listener Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What a sad, tragic, enlightning, memorable tale."
    Where does American Dervish rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 10%


    What was one of the most memorable moments of American Dervish?

    The Muslim cutural enlightning moments and there were many.


    What does Ayad Akhtar bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Direct realistic contact with the Muslim axperience.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Hospital scene at the end and the meeting with Nathan right after.


    Any additional comments?

    The depth of hatred for Jews was something, if true and I'm sure it is, that will probably last as long as there are Arabs like the ones in this book.It's nice to be a person whose life is not ruled by extreme religion. Life is a struggle without that.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AmyK023 Minnesota, USA 10-17-12
    AmyK023 Minnesota, USA 10-17-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    36
    4
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    "The author's narration makes the story poingnant."
    Where does American Dervish rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Withthe author narrating his own works it was possible to truly hear the inflection and tone he was attempting to create in his writing.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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