American Dervish

A Novel

Akhtar, Ayad

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
American Dervish
Baker & Taylor
A young Pakistani boy, whose parents left the fundamentalists behind when they came to America, finds transformation and a path to happiness through a family friend, Mina, who shows him the beauty and power of the Quran.

Hachette Book Group
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.

& Taylor

A young Pakistani boy, whose parents left the fundamentalists behind when they came to America, finds transformation and a path to happiness through a family friend, Mina, who shows him the beauty and power of the Quran. 75,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Little, Brown, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780316183314
Branch Call Number: FIC A
Characteristics: 357 p. ; 25 cm.


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Nov 23, 2014

one of the best!! and written for the enhancement of understanding and peace

Jan 11, 2014
  • JudithE rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I really liked this book. What gripped me is the passion and incomplete understanding of a 12 year old, and how that can affect everyone around that 12-year-old. I think there was a great deal of honesty in the portrayal of a young adolescent, with all its downsides as well as excitement with the newly-opening world.

Aug 16, 2013
  • crankylibrarian rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Deeply upsetting, brutal assault of a book. Although I don't expect every character in a novel to be "likable" or even "relatable", I lose patience when every single character is an idiot, an asshole or both. Neither of the 2 protagonists; glutton-for-punishment wack job Mina or obscenely self absorbed Hayat made sense to me, and the secondary figures veered into caricature. I found it especially difficult to believe that Nathan, a well-educated Jewish doctor and the child of Holocaust survivors, would so blithely decide to convert to Islam and then be SHOCKED to discover that hard core fundamentalist Muslims might be anti-Semitic. (Wow, never saw THAT coming!) No one comes off well here: devout Muslims, Jews, secularists...even the little kid is an obnoxious brat. Akhtar claims to dramatize the "personal mystical exploration of faith" and the "need for a feminine spirituality within the Islamic tradition", but all he does is suggest that spirituality turns women into punching bags who gratefully accept being "ground into dust" for the glory of God.

Mar 29, 2013
  • poledownunder rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

I abandoned the book at about half way point. After enjoying the start of it, I got bored with one dimensional characters and a coming of age story which grew tedious. The only worthwhile aspects for me were the commentary on the Quran which were educational for me, but not enough to make me want to finish the book.

Jan 12, 2013
  • Rock_Shadow rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Written in a narrative of a twelve year old boy, the book is anything but simple. As the story unfolds so does the reader's picture of the Moslem community in the United States- from the fundamentally religious, through academically and emotionally religious, all the way to those who reject the religion. Fundamentalism, abuse of power, and disrespect for women on one side, especially among the older community members, through to various levels of understanding of the contemporary society by the young Moslems, all is covered in this beautifully laid out story.

Oct 15, 2012
  • Eil_1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This was an extraordinary book in that it included religion, relationships and conflicts within a Muslim community. The son's religious attitudes are in conflict with his Father's (a non-practicing Muslim). Although I'm sure that there are many Muslim men who are respectful of women, there are many who suffer at the hands of their husbands, fathers and family.

Jun 19, 2012
  • trix29 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

After the first few pages, I didn't think I was going to like this book but I kept reading because I use Nancy Pearl's rule of reading - Subtract your age from 100 and you are left with the number of pages to allow a book to grab you. That number gets smaller as you get older, because you have less time, and hopefully you are more discerning.

I'm glad I kept reading because the book grabbed me. It is about a you muslim boy living in the US and trying to find his place in the world and even in his family. The pull of different cultures and the sheltering he has within his own, sometimes leaves him on shaky ground.

When his "auntie" Mina come to live with the family, the world opens up a bit, but not without consequences.

I couldn't put this book down. I would recommend it to anyone.

May 08, 2012
  • lalalady rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Easy to read, with engaging characters. This book gives real insight into the world of Muslims newly transplanted to the USA and the struggles in culture and beliefs that ensue.


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