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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

Critic Reviews

" [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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  • Stevon
  • Tempe, AZ, United States
  • 05-13-12

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?

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
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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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Both completely foreign and painfully familiar

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]

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Pax
  • Kirtland, OH, United States
  • 09-03-12

I loved it!

Where does American Dervish rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of my top favorites.

Any additional comments?

I love to read books that expand my worldview by taking me inside another culture. This was a very engrossing, well-written and narrated story, and I loved it. I read and listen to audiobooks a lot on my travels, and I'd definitely recommend this one to others!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Thought provoking.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding novel

Where does American Dervish rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

The various interpersonal tensions and challenges were developed with skill and nuance.

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

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.

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

Hayat

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Brave Book

Where does American Dervish rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This was one of the most moving, and enlightening, books I've ever listened to

If you could rename American Dervish, what would you call it?

If I could re-name this book I'd probably call it "Just Another American Family"

Any additional comments?

Like many Americans, I know little about Muslim family life, and I was drawn to this book because I wanted to learn a little about Muslim culture. Boy did I pick the right book.<br/><br/>American Dervish is written without apology, it delves into the soul of a young boy growing up in a Muslim family in America in the 1980s. He struggles with his religion, takes it to extremes, then settles down when he sees the bigger picture.<br/><br/>The family, and their friends, are comprised of many different characters, each with their own views on religion--both theirs and other folks' beliefs--and each of them lives their life in America on their own terms. Some are radical--though not uber-radical--and some try to fit into American society by befriending people from other religions.<br/><br/>Guess what? They are like any other American family. This book is such a treat.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful