Hello Book Clubbers!
Thanks for voting for our final read of 2012. Our four nominees were selected based on their relevance to the past year, be it due to themes or publication dates. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward was nominated because the characters remain optimistic during an impending natural disaster. The End of Men by Hanna Rosin was another option, because the author's thesis would be interesting to examine alongside the role of women in the presidential election.
It was a close thing, but you chose American Dervish by Ayad Aktar, a novel that discusses, among other things, Islam and the dangerous stereotypes that have been held against it in the American Midwest.
I picked up this book out of my always-growing stack of to-read titles simply because the cover caught my eye. A boy rides his bike through an idyllic, wooded neighborhood, but the way he sheepishly peers over his shoulder suggests that he is not feeling carefree.
It's a moving story about Islam and adolescence. As The New York Times writes, "for all the rage and satire contained within its pages, Mr. Akhtar's novel is... admirably restrained, deeply appreciative of some aspects of Islam and ultimately far more interested in raising provocative questions than in definitively answering them." Indie publication Brooklyn Rail wrote: "The Muslim American novel has arrived, and it is titled American Dervish."
For a reader who was lamentably uninformed about the tenants of Islam, both as a religion and a culture, I found this book to be as important as it was entertaining, and I hope that you will too. American Dervish covers too many themes too deftly to be categorized--it's an honest examination of a religious culture, a geographic culture, and a pre-9/11 world. It's also a love story and a coming-of-age story, albeit a very different one than Holden Caulfield's.
Join us with our weekly liveblog and Google Hangout chats as we explore the many worlds that Ayad Aktar has created in this beautiful book! As always, you can drop us a line if you'd like to blog about your reading experience or topics related to the book, and you can sign up for our weekly newsletter in the top right corner of the book club page.
Here are some places where you can pick up a copy of American Dervish: