What’s it about?
Ayad Akhtar is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and novelist. His newest book is written as a novel, but at times seemed more like a memoir or a collection of short stories. Much like Akhtar, the narrator is a American born man of Pakistani descent. This novel gives us vignettes of the Muslim-American experience and insights into how America got to the place it is now.
What did it make me think about?
Family, belonging, the economics of America, and hard work.
Should I read it?
This was an interesting and thoughtful look at what it is like to be a Muslim artist post 9-11. The narrator tells many different stories that shed light on his life experience. His relationship with his father was the ballast of the book for me. I was also fascinated by the hard work he has put in to pursue his craft. I tend to think of writing as a gift you are innately born with, but Akhtar details the work he put into becoming a prize winning writer. This is a thoughtful, intellectual look at many facets of the American experience. If you are open to listening then I highly recommend this book.
In the mark of a great book their are so many quotes to choose from.....
"We are more obsessed with what they think of us than what we think of ourselves. We spend way too much time trying to correct the impression the West has of who we are. We've turned defensiveness into a way of life. Edward Said writes a book about how wrong they've been about us, and it becomes our bible, a high road to self-knowledge. But that's not what it is. Not remotely. Constantly defining yourself in opposition to what others say about you is not self-knowledge. It's confusion. That much I'd figured but the time I was in high school."
"Increasingly, the benefit to the consumer become the dominant metric of common good, and that benefit would be solely defined by the lowest price."
If you liked this try-
A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Exit West by Moshin Hamid
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie