American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar
A Novel

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In press material accompanying the book, Akhtar said he wrote "American Dervish" because he wanted to "open a window on the vibrant and complex world of Islam in the country"...
-LA Times

Synopsis

Hayat Shah is a young American in love for the first time. His normal life of school, baseball, and video games had previously been distinguished only by his Pakistani heritage and by the frequent chill between his parents, who fight over things he is too young to understand. Then Mina arrives, and everything changes.

Mina is Hayat's mother's oldest friend from Pakistan. She is independent, beautiful and intelligent, and arrives on the Shah's doorstep when her disastrous marriage in Pakistan disintegrates. Even Hayat's skeptical father can't deny the liveliness and happiness that accompanies Mina into their home. Her deep spirituality brings the family's Muslim faith to life in a way that resonates with Hayat as nothing has before. Studying the Quran by Mina's side and basking in the glow of her attention, he feels an entirely new purpose mingled with a growing infatuation for his teacher.

When Mina meets and begins dating a man, Hayat is confused by his feelings of betrayal. His growing passions, both spiritual and romantic, force him to question all that he has come to believe is true. Just as Mina finds happiness, Hayat is compelled to act -- with devastating consequences for all those he loves most.

American Dervish is a brilliantly written, nuanced, and emotionally forceful look inside the interplay of religion and modern life. Ayad Akhtar was raised in the Midwest himself, and through Hayat Shah he shows readers vividly the powerful forces at work on young men and women growing up Muslim in America. This is an intimate, personal first novel that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.
 

About Ayad Akhtar

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Ayad Akhtar is an American-born, first generation Pakistani-American from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, he holds degrees in Theater from Brown University and in Directing from the Graduate Film Program at Columbia University, where he won multiple awards for his work. He is the author of a novel, American Dervish, and numerous screenplays and was star and co-writer of The War Within, which premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay and an International Press Academy Satellite Award for Best Picture - Drama.
 
Published January 9, 2012 by Little, Brown and Company. 369 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality. Fiction
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Critic reviews for American Dervish
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Adam Langer on Jan 04 2012

Finally, the novel’s coy epilogue hints too obviously at a second installment about how, as an adult, Hayat falls in love with a Jewish woman.

Read Full Review of American Dervish: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Nazneen Sheikh on Jan 27 2012

From start to finish, this thrilling novel incorporates the vital ingredients of fine storytelling.

Read Full Review of American Dervish: A Novel | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Laura Eggertson on Jan 28 2012

Readers will enjoy American Dervish, despite its rather rushed conclusion and some tired plot devices.

Read Full Review of American Dervish: A Novel | See more reviews from Toronto Star

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Lorraine Ali on Jan 30 2012

In press material accompanying the book, Akhtar said he wrote "American Dervish" because he wanted to "open a window on the vibrant and complex world of Islam in the country"...

Read Full Review of American Dervish: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times

Reader Rating for American Dervish
76%

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