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American Dervish: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 8 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; Unabridged edition (Jan. 9 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611136172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611136173
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 14.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,670,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Akhtar, the star and director of the 2005 terrorism drama The War Within, offers what promises to be one of the most complex treatments of Muslim immigration and fundamentalism to come from an American-born (albeit first-generation) writer."―Boris Kachka, New York Magazine

"Whether you believe religion is a precious gift from God or the greatest scourge of mankind, you will find yourself represented in these pages. With brilliant storytelling and exquisitely balanced points of view, Ayad Akhtar creates characters who experience the rapture of religion but also have their lives ripped apart by it."―Manil Suri, author of The Death of Vishnu and The Age of Shiva

About the Author

Ayad Akhtar is an American-born, first generation Pakistani-American from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 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 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. American Dervish is his first novel.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ade on June 15 2012
Format: Hardcover
Very powerful book, impressive. Style is nice, makes u want to read more. A nice example of contemporary writing and culturally insightful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 163 reviews
70 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Intriguing and bittersweet Jan. 1 2012
By Julie A. Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Title explanation: A dervish is a person who gives up everything for Allah.

In 1990, Hayat, from a Pakistani family, is in college. The death of his "aunt" Mina causes him to reflect on her story, and on events that occurred as he was growing up. It tells of his parents' less-than-happy marriage, and the different ways in which his parents shaped his views, as well as of Hamad's immersion in the Quran, with the resultant initial rigid set of beliefs that spur him to actions that he is ashamed of later in life.

Mina Ali is his mother Irshad's best friend from Pakistan. After an arranged marriage to a husband who allows his mother to abuse her, followed by a divorce when Mina is in the maternity ward, Irshad and Naveed (Hayat's father) persuade Mina's parents to allow her and her 2-year-old-son, Imran, to stay with them in America.

How do I describe this one without spoilers? As a reader who is always interested in other cultures, but especially fascinated by stories of other cultures living in America, this was a mind-opener. The parallels here between fundamentalist Christians and their strict, close-minded sets of beliefs and hard-line Muslims are equally full of intolerance.

Mina is a lovely, intelligent woman, and the choices she makes based on her religion are rather tragic in consequence.

Seeing how Hayat's beliefs were whittled and shaped reminds me of my own spiritual growth, and will likely remind you of your own.

I loved the characters and the story. I felt very invested in Mina, and her story is one that will resonate with you as well, dear reader.

The story of Nathan, Naveed's best friend and colleague, the son of a Holocaust survivor, is bittersweet.

There are injustices here, and adultery, and women whose potential is quashed. It is sad in places, hopeful in others, but very real and impactful.

I highly recommend it.


"Hayat, her intelligence has been the curse of her life. When a Muslim woman is too smart, she pays the price for it. And she pays the price not in money, behta, but in abuse."

"I know that you won't understand why I burned your Quran, but there was a reason. It's because you're different. You can't live life by rules others give you. In that way, you and I are the same. You have to find your own rules. All my life I've been running away from their rules, Hayat. All my life. You will be the same. Don't ask me how I know it, but I do."

"So what do I do? I ask her, like any normal person would, 'Why, Najat, does your husband beat you? Hmm?' "
Mother was absorbed in the moment, as if reliving it.
" 'Because we need it,' she says. 'Because it's something about our nature. Something that needs to know its limits.' My jaw hit the floor, Hayat. I looked at her and thought to myself, this is an insane asylum . . . "

Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 4.5 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING: 4.6 out of 5 stars
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Wanted To Like It More Than I Did Jan. 28 2012
By Jill I. Shtulman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Hayat Shah - the only son of Pakistani Muslim parents living on the outskirts of Milwaukee - is very likeable, the type of person you can imagine sitting down and talking to way into the night. In the first few pages of the novel, he is getting ready to share his life story to a young Jewish woman with these words: "You may not like me very much if I tell you what happened..."

But we do. As readers we do like Hayat as he reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly of his story, which begins when his mother's best friend Mina departs from Pakistan and her controlling ex-husband with her small son. Hayat - at the cusp of adolescence - develops a serious crush on Mina, who encourages him to immerse himself in the Qur'an. Pretty soon, Mina falls for a Jewish doctor - the partner of Hayat's father and his new sense of purpose merges with his growing sense of "love" and confused feelings of betrayal.

It's not only an intriguing but also a timely premise, as thoughtful Americans strive to gain greater understanding of "what it means to be Muslim." And I believe the book has much to offer a young adult or mass market audience who likes a linear story with an educational twist. The story has an interesting protagonist, a story arc, and has much to say about the push and pull of secular, mystical, and religious Islam, the evolving role of women, and the confusion that accompanies growing up Muslim in America.

However, like many plot-driven made-for-TV movies, American Dervish doesn't dig nearly enough, not providing its characters with enough of an inner life, and sacrificing depth for a fluid story line. The result is often platitudes and melodrama, with messages strongly telegraphed.

Here is Hayat's mother, speaking to him: "Listen to me and never forget what I'm telling you. If you give yourself to filth and garbage, you will become filth and garbage. You will become the sum of what you desire...Promise me you won't end up like him." And here is Mina's Jewish suitor, Nathan: "The way he has those people beholden to him. It's revolting and immortal. And it has nothing to do with real Islam. Nothing at all." Or mother talking about her friend Mina: "I keep telling her the fact that Nathan's Jewish is a good thing. They understand how to respect women, behta. They understand how to let a woman be a woman, to let her take care of them."

Ayad Akhtar - an actor, playwright and novelist - is obviously striving to contribute to Muslim-Jewish (and Muslim-American) understanding, which is a very worthy goal and a good thing. But by leading the reader to conclusions and by simplifying premises, the book just doesn't rise to high literary standards. In a world where "unhappiness hovers" and "nerve ends teem", the novel is ultimately lacking. (2.5)
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
An Open Mind Jan. 13 2012
By Mike - Published on
Format: Hardcover
By taking us into a community that most of us don't know, except as stereotype, and seeing it through a child's eyes, this book has the vitality and vibrancy of something entirely new. American Dervish brings us into the heart of a Muslim boy in the Midwest who is trying, like all children, to make sense of the world he lives in. His immigrant parents are caught between assimilation and the pull of their culture of origin. The boy's own journey into emotional and spiritual discovery opens a door on absolutist thinking -- one of the more pressing issues of our time. The joy is that the door to transcendence is also opened, and the characters are so well realized that story feels entirely authentic.
While this is an adult book I would recommend it to any parent looking for an excellent read for a teenager. It is a treatise on keeping an open mind.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Islamic Faith, American Culture, & Pubescent Yearning Collide Jan. 18 2012
By NanMcRam - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A Pakistani family--Naveed, the father (a physician); Muneer, his wife; and Hayat, their son--live a seemingly mundane life in Milwaukee. Then Mina, the life-long best friend of Muneer, and her son, Imran, come from Pakistan to live with the family after Mina's divorce. Mina meets Nathan, a colleague of Naveed's; Hayat's insecurities surface when he feels his own relationship with Mina is being threatened; and thus, the collision begins.......

This book is exquisitely written! We are treated to glimpses of Islamic history and the Quran, enmeshed with the superlative plot. Strong character development is @ the helm of this terrific tale. Ayed Akhtar is a DIALOG GENIUS. The dialog so aptly evokes the personas of the cast of characters that their personalities are virtually tattooed on their foreheads. I can't remember when I last encountered such incredibly concise, descriptive dialog.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: The author leaves adequate possibility for a sequel at the end of the story, i.e.,Hayat's post-pubescent relationship history and the uncertainty of Mina and Nathan's ultimate involvement...NMR
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A lovely book Jan. 9 2012
By Reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
AMERICAN DERVISH is a beautiful novel. With luscious prose, Akhar tells the story of Mina Ali through the eyes of the young narrator Hayat Shah. The novel takes on so many relevant issues and Akhar handles them all with sensitivity and authority. A great love story, highly recommended.