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Extended Audio Sample American Dervish: A Novel, by Ayad Akhtar Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,229 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ayad Akhtar Narrator: Ayad Akhtar Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9781611135398
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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 she 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 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
  • “What a pleasure to encounter a first novel as self-assured and effortlessly told as Ayad Akhtar’s American Dervish…An immensely entertaining coming-of-age story…What distinguishes Mr. Akhtar’s novel is its generosity and its willingness to embrace the contradictions of its memorably idiosyncratic characters and the society they inhabit…[A] charming debut.”

    New York Times 

  • “[A] quintessentially American coming-of-age story…Akhtar’s poignant and wise debut announces the arrival of a generous new voice in American fiction.”

    Washington Post

  • Selected for the January 2012 Indie Next List
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction
  • A 2013 Audie Award Finalist for Best Narration by the Author

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 2/7/2014

    " I wasn't planning to like this book, but what a surprise, I really loved it! I think it will prove to be a great "book club" discussion...there are just so many topics to cover. Religion, love, and honesty are just some of the topics that come to mind in this coming-of-age story about a Muslim-American boy growing up in a dysfuctional family, in 1980's & 90's America. The author leads the reader through some very real and thought provoking situations, and lets us wonder what the "right" solution might be. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristel Doucet | 2/7/2014

    " Fantastic! Disturbing in parts, but a great read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 2/1/2014

    " Started out very promising but not sure what it was all about by the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marisa Gonzalez | 1/29/2014

    " A coming of age story of a young Pakistani boy living in the US whose life is changed when his mom's childhood friend moves in with his family to escape an oppresive life in Pakistan. This was a great book. It starts out kind of funny with the parents bickering but gets darker and more serious as the book goes on. It also gives some insight into Islam which was very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lara Zuberi | 1/26/2014

    " I definitely enjoyed it, it was very deep and had many layers to it. Parts of it were a bit crude for my liking, however, I do applaud Ayad for giving the reader a taste of sharply contrasting viewpoints in the portrayal of different characters as well as those same conflicts within the main characters themselves. Perhaps because of the writer's background as a playwright, at times there seemed to be a dearth of descriptions in terms of time and place. The characterization and dialogue is excellent, I just hope the readers will not generalize this as being a typical American-Pakistani family, which it truly is not. (The average American-Pakistani family is not dysfunctional and alcohol and adultery are the exception rather than the rule).The story is fascinating, and I liked the spiritual message it sends out about the importance of the big picture of religion as opposed to the more often focussed on small details. Overall, I would recommend it, and I look forward to reading more work by the author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynne | 1/22/2014

    " This coming of age story of a young Muslim growing up in the mid-west was hard to put down. It tells a compelling tale of faith, sorrow, tenderness, anger, betrayal, questioning, and love. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Pendley | 1/18/2014

    " Enjoyed the learning experience the novel offered. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Mule | 12/17/2013

    " Excellent book. Well written, provocative and thoughtful "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jamie | 12/4/2013

    " This book was a fast read, but I can't say that it was a very exciting read or a book I will remember down the road. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean-marie Heard | 11/24/2013

    " Really enjoyed - learned something about Muslims and Islam and the Koran in the process. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelley | 11/19/2013

    " Thoroughly enjoyed this coming of age and immigrant novel. I listened to the audio version, and the author did a great job of putting nuance to the words which really helped to bring the story alive. I recommend it for telling the story of religion and what constitutes spirituality. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 7/26/2013

    " I received a copy of American Dervish through the First Reads program. The story is a coming of age for a young boy who is exploring the questions of faith and relationships. The story was heartbreaking, but was completely satisfying. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marissa | 12/19/2012

    " I liked the beginning, I liked the end, and while certainly an interesting subject, it was a bit slow-paced in the middle for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mkb | 12/3/2012

    " First book my my Nook! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathryn | 6/1/2012

    " very good read. couldn't put it down "

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