American Dervish

Ayad Akhtar. Little, Brown, $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-18331-4
Poor Hayat Shah: his father drinks and sleeps around; his mother constantly tells him how awful Muslim men are (especially his father, with his “white prostitutes”); he doesn’t seem to have any friends; and he’s in love with his mother’s best friend, the beautiful Mina who’s his mother’s age and something of an aunt to him. Unlike his parents, Mina, who came to Milwaukee from a bad marriage in Pakistan, is devout, which makes sexual stirrings and the Qur’an go hand in hand for the young Hayat (aside from a framing device, the story mostly takes place when he’s between 10 and 12). His rival for Mina’s love isn’t just a grown man, he’s Jewish, so along with the roil of conflicting ideas about gender, sexuality, and Islamic constraint vs. Western looseness, first-time novelist Akhtar also takes on anti-Semitism. Though set well before 9/11, the book is clearly affected by it, with Akhtar determined to traffic in big themes and illustrate the range of Muslim thought and practice. This would be fine if the book didn’t so often feel contrived, stocked with caricatures rather than people. Ultimately, Akhtar’s debut reads like a melodramatic YA novel, not because of the age of its narrator but because of the abundance of lessons to be learned. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2011
Release date: 01/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-297-86544-5
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-0-316-18330-7
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-297-86545-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-61969-382-1
Ebook - 978-0-316-19282-8
Compact Disc - 8 pages - 978-1-61113-617-3
Open Ebook - 211 pages - 978-0-316-19283-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61113-067-6
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-0-316-20476-7
Prebound-Glued - 356 pages - 978-0-606-26682-6
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