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
" [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)
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.
The character of Meena, the
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.
I love books!
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?
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.
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.
I am a retired Child Psychologist who delights in her three grandchildren to whom I passed on the love of reading. They read vociferously.
I did not read the print version, but I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version. The accents were very real.
A book such as Avalon might be comparable with its myriad characters and complex personalities as they attempt to adapt to American culture.
His apparent good accent and appropriate intonations called for in the different settings.
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.
The author's speech seemed a little pressured and speedy. A slower cadence would have worked better for us. We loved the story and it gave us insight into the American Muslim experience and internal conflicts. Well worth our time.
This is one of the most compelling audio books of the many I have listened to over the years. The author's narration is amazing and the various accents he adds to his characters reflects considerable talent.
The various interpersonal tensions and challenges were developed with skill and nuance.
I learned quite abit about the pressures in conservative Islam. At some points, candidly, it was quite disturbing and I am not sure how much is based on fact or fact modified by fiction.
I highly recommend this book.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
This wonderful novel manages somehow to be both completely foreign and at the same time painfully familiar. The foreignness is expected; the reader opens the book already knowing that it is about a Pakistani boy named Hayat growing up in America. There are many truly lovely passages that reveal the wisdom of the Quran and the Muslim faith. One section recounting Hayat’s trip to a mosque is performed as a chant in the audio book, was so mesmerizing I felt transported to that holy place. Other passages offered equally fascinating glimpses into daily life in a Pakistani household, with benign accounts of exotic foods and unfamiliar (to me) gender roles.
Underlying these scenes of Muslim religious and domestic life is the universal tale of a child growing up. Here is where the strange becomes familiar. I do not say this because Hayat is growing up in my home town, Milwaukee, but because his struggles are those of any child. Hayat, like many children, misunderstands what is going on around him, he misinterprets, he thinks everything is about him . . . in short, he is a normal kid. Through his eyes, we witness the cruelty borne by women in the name of religion or to protect their children. In a funny passage, we see Hayat learn about sex. In a sickening passage, we see him act out the prejudice he has learned from the adults around him. Most readers will find echoes of themselves in Hayat’s continuing struggle to fit in.
[I read this as an audio book, extremely well-performed by the author]
This was an excellent book! Its so easy for me to forget how I thought as a child. This book makes that logic so clear- like those hidden 3d books, the story shifts from the reasoning of adults to the reasoning of children but both seem so clear and unambiguous when focused on to the exclusion of the other. Also gives a fascinating peek into the lives of Pakistani Americans- a view most outside of the community probably don't get to see much. I didn't want to stop listening.
What a fascinating story of religious fundamentalism. Though the main characters are Muslim, it also includes Christians and Jews and how fundamentalism in any of these can have very negative consequences. In addition, it is a coming-of-age story by the main character, Hayat. The narration is what made this book come alive for me. Akhtar was able to include various Pakistani English accents so that I had a real sense of individuals. This could be a great book club choice since there is so much to discuss regarding religious outlook and concepts of God.
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