THE EXPLOSIVE NOVEL FROM PULITZER PRIZE WINNER AYAD AKHTAR
'Terrific' The Times
'Extraordinary' Sunday Express
'A great American story' Metro
HOW OFTEN DOES SOMEONE YOU MEET TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE?
Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother's beautiful, brilliant friend is a family legend. When he learns that Mina is leaving Pakistan to live with the Shahs in America, Hayat is thrilled.
Hayat's father is less enthusiastic. Ever wary of fundamentalism, he doesn't relish the idea of Mina's fervid devotion under his roof.
What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty of the Quran, it will utterly transform him.
Mina's real magic may be that the Shah household becomes a happy one. But when Mina catches the eye of a Jewish doctor and family friend, Hayat's jealousy is inflamed by the community's anti-Semitism - and he acts with catastrophic consequences for those he loves most.
A DEVASTATINGLY MOVING NOVEL FROM ONE OF AMERICA'S MOST EXCITING WRITERS
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
An O, the Oprah Magazine Book of the Year
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.