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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced and author of American Dervish, an American son and his immigrant father search for belonging -- in post-Trump America, and with each other. "Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable." - Salman Rushdie A deeply personal work about hope and identity in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and ficti From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced and author of American Dervish, an American son and his immigrant father search for belonging -- in post-Trump America, and with each other. "Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable." - Salman Rushdie A deeply personal work about hope and identity in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of belonging and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque adventure -- at its heart, it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home. Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and our ideals have been sacrificed to the gods of finance, where a TV personality is president and immigrants live in fear, and where the nation's unhealed wounds of 9/11 wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one -- least of all himself -- in the process.


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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced and author of American Dervish, an American son and his immigrant father search for belonging -- in post-Trump America, and with each other. "Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable." - Salman Rushdie A deeply personal work about hope and identity in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and ficti From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced and author of American Dervish, an American son and his immigrant father search for belonging -- in post-Trump America, and with each other. "Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable." - Salman Rushdie A deeply personal work about hope and identity in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of belonging and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque adventure -- at its heart, it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home. Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and our ideals have been sacrificed to the gods of finance, where a TV personality is president and immigrants live in fear, and where the nation's unhealed wounds of 9/11 wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one -- least of all himself -- in the process.

30 review for Homeland Elegies

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Have you heard about Homeland Elegies yet? The author, Ayad Akhtar, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author already, and he deserves another. While the book is fiction, it is inspired by the author’s own story. It’s a book about finding cultural identity in the US, especially post 9/11. It’s about family. What does it mean to be an American? The writing is stunning. The truths, shocking. Smart. I have read nothing like it. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down, and I was filled with emotion th Have you heard about Homeland Elegies yet? The author, Ayad Akhtar, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author already, and he deserves another. While the book is fiction, it is inspired by the author’s own story. It’s a book about finding cultural identity in the US, especially post 9/11. It’s about family. What does it mean to be an American? The writing is stunning. The truths, shocking. Smart. I have read nothing like it. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down, and I was filled with emotion throughout. Honest, raw, insightful thought-provoking, and memorable, this is such a great book for learning and discussion. Five stars. I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    What to call this? Others have called it a memoir. But while the main character and author share a name, he states that this is fiction. But many of the book’s chapters read more like essays. Whatever form you want to call it, it’s an interesting book. Starting back when his cardiologist father first met Donald Trump in 1993, we watch this father and son duo go back and forth. We also hear from his mother, his hedge fund operating friend, his girlfriend and countless relatives on what it means t What to call this? Others have called it a memoir. But while the main character and author share a name, he states that this is fiction. But many of the book’s chapters read more like essays. Whatever form you want to call it, it’s an interesting book. Starting back when his cardiologist father first met Donald Trump in 1993, we watch this father and son duo go back and forth. We also hear from his mother, his hedge fund operating friend, his girlfriend and countless relatives on what it means to be a Muslim in the US. I loved the points made about being the child of an immigrant, of getting a bird’s eye view into why his mother and family friend supported the mujahideen, on Riaz’s and Mike’s takes on debt and capitalism. Surprisingly, the book spends as much time discussing capitalism as it does religion. I found this enjoyable, especially in the current contrast between Democratic and Republican beliefs in the best way to help Americans, especially Black Americans. I do feel the beginning of the book would have been helped by a better editing job. It came across as discombobulated. Luckily, it got much more focused for the latter ¾ of the book and I enjoyed it much more. My thanks to netgalley and Little, Brown for an advance copy of this book. What to call this? Others have called it a memoir. But while the main character and author share a name, he states that this is fiction. But many of the book’s chapters read more like essays. Whatever form you want to call it, it’s an interesting book. Starting back when his cardiologist father first met Donald Trump in 1993, we watch this father and son duo go back and forth. We also hear from his mother, his hedge fund operating friend, his girlfriend and countless relatives on what it means to be a Muslim in the US. I loved the points made about being the child of an immigrant, of getting a bird’s eye view into why his mother and family friend supported the mujahideen, on Riaz’s and Mike’s takes on debt and capitalism. Surprisingly, the book spends as much time discussing capitalism as it does religion. I found this enjoyable, especially in the current contrast between Democratic and Republican beliefs in the best way to help Americans, especially Black Americans. I do feel the beginning of the book would have been helped by a better editing job. It came across as discombobulated. Luckily, it got much more focused for the latter ¾ of the book and I enjoyed it much more. My thanks to netgalley and Little, Brown for an advance copy of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    The challenge of remembering one’s identity in a racist culture is also at the heart of Ayad Akhtar’s remarkable new book, “Homeland Elegies.” But here, Akhtar bounds far beyond the cleverly engineered drama of “Disgraced.” With its sprawling vision of contemporary America, “Homeland Elegies” is a phenomenal coalescence of memoir, fiction, history and cultural analysis. It would not surprise me if it wins him a second Pulitzer Prize. But for which category? In an introductory note to readers, Akht The challenge of remembering one’s identity in a racist culture is also at the heart of Ayad Akhtar’s remarkable new book, “Homeland Elegies.” But here, Akhtar bounds far beyond the cleverly engineered drama of “Disgraced.” With its sprawling vision of contemporary America, “Homeland Elegies” is a phenomenal coalescence of memoir, fiction, history and cultural analysis. It would not surprise me if it wins him a second Pulitzer Prize. But for which category? In an introductory note to readers, Akhtar claims, “This is not a work of autobiography. . . . This is a novel.” That’s the only disingenuous passage in this book. The interior design of “Homeland Elegies” may include elements of fiction, but the architecture is clearly the author’s life: The narrator is a man named Ayad Akhtar, the son of Pakistani doctors, who writes a Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a Muslim American and then struggles to negotiate the rising xenophobia of the Trump era. Check, check, check, check. My point isn’t to call out how closely the story echoes the author’s history. One of the most fascinating themes of this tour de force is the sustained tension between memoir and invention that runs through any creative person’s life. Akhtar introduces that subject early in a chapter called “On Autobiography; or, Bin Laden.” He notes that after his play made him famous, he was repeatedly asked to what extent the central character was him. “I’ve gleaned that what I’m usually being asked is whether I, too, felt a blush of pride on September 11.” His answer loops back to. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Is it a bird? ....a plane? ...or Superman? “I was a Muslim with a funny name”. ....is it fiction? ....that reads like a memoir? ....is it essays, that are personal, passionate, entertaining, thought-provoking, ambitious, and brilliant?... YES...YES...YES....it’s all of the above. I really can’t say enough great things about Ayad Akhtar....as a very inspiring human being, and a damn good novelist —— “Homeland Elgies” is written with purpose, and heart. We learn about Aktar....( fiction-combo-tru Is it a bird? ....a plane? ...or Superman? “I was a Muslim with a funny name”. ....is it fiction? ....that reads like a memoir? ....is it essays, that are personal, passionate, entertaining, thought-provoking, ambitious, and brilliant?... YES...YES...YES....it’s all of the above. I really can’t say enough great things about Ayad Akhtar....as a very inspiring human being, and a damn good novelist —— “Homeland Elgies” is written with purpose, and heart. We learn about Aktar....( fiction-combo-truth), as he tries to make sense of America - as a Muslim. This book reads quickly, but not too quickly— There are compelling backstories about his immigrant parents, their philosophies, beliefs, jobs, -and life values. Plus... Aktar gave us a genuine experience of his journey growing up with brown skin... From close to poverty - to the experience of elite privileged living. The writing was so good, that I often re-read passages two and three times. The dialogue stimulated wisdom, insight, and concerns of unifying diversity, and pride of identity. “I’d just crossed into New York State when my cell phone rang. It was my mother. She was worried. Why haven’t I called yesterday? I apologized, told her about the problem with the car. I haven’t wanted to concern her. My father overheard the mention of trouble with the car and picked up the receiver: “What happened to the car?” “Blew a head gasket”. “It’s a lemon. I told you it was a waste of money”. “I know Dad”. “How much did they charge you?” “Don’t worry about it” The conversation continues—-his father insists that they can help. Atkar was thinking: “I knew they were hearing the need, the distress in my voice. I knew they wanted me to say more. But what to tell them? That I was lost and broke and felt persistently humiliated and under attack and the only country I’ve ever known, a place that the more I understood, the less I felt I belong? What was the point? Eventually—after more contemplating thoughts, Atkar was going to stop pretending that he felt like an American”. “We, Muslims, we’re constantly besieged by a culture that didn’t understand us, that didn’t want us. It was why I only ever voiced my thoughts indirectly, through that particular prevarication called art. I didn’t see the point of harping on ‘our’ issues in public when it was evident ‘their’ mishaps and blind spots were so much more pressing. The existential threats to our species were not coming from us but from the proliferation of their ‘enlightened’ way of life to every corner of the planet. Wasn’t ‘that’ the necessary critique now?” “There is a culture here, for sure, and it has nothing to do with all the well-meaning nonsense. It’s about racism and money worship— and when you’re on the correct side of both those things? That’s when you really belong. Because that when you start to represent the best of what they think they are”. “We do the same thing they do: we make ourselves out to be better than we are. And what really doesn’t help is how we end up using their contempt as an excuse to avoid our own failings”. Failings?.... Atkar and his Muslim friend, Riaz—two brown men— were arguing (in the best of ways- that friends have serious discussions together - inserting a joke here and there to lighten the heavy issues) “Are blacks supposed to go around pretending not to be enraged about the shit they go through in this country every day? Just because it makes them look bad to white people? They’re angry, and they’ve got damn good reasons to be. And maybe we do, too”. “We’re caught in this awful cycle of belatedness and inferiority. It’s made us feel weak. For generation after generation. And being weak has made us angry—“ “I was not writing literature, in his view, but rather emotionally charged rhetorical delivery devices passing for art; it was anti-Muslim muckraking, offering deceptively compelling illusions of reasoned argument in service of the destructive tropes Riaz’s foundation was working hard to undo in the first place. Admitting me to this board, in a word, a disgrace—though apparently not disgraceful enough to merit his leaving it. I took his animadversions in stride. What else was there to do but to thank him for his thoughts and pretend I didn’t care?” Joining Riaz’s board exposed Aktar to parts of the world he’d only read about. He met Hillary ( notice he didn’t need to print her last name), had dinner at Chez Panisse, prepared by Alice Waters, herself... went backstage at ‘Hamilton’, went fly fishing in Idaho with Fareed Zakaria (Indian-American, journalist, political scientist, and author: writes a weekly column for the Washington Post), went golfing in Pebble Beach with Neel Kash-Kari, (President of the Federal Reserved Bank in Minneapolis/a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for Governor of California in the 2014 election), and few time Venice where he spent three days on the Lido, meeting with Muslim artists, spent another few days in Dhabi at a conference devoted to Islamic microfinance.... and another week in Frankfurt to host a gala where they raised over a million euros to support gay Muslims being persecuted in Chechnya.... and the list went on and on.... sharing fancy delicious foods with famous actors, artists, politicians, scientists, philosophers, ... etc. Atkar came to see that he became an honorary member of the privileged class. I laughed that Atkar was getting use to asparagus season in Marchfeld and Sauternes with his fois gras. It didn’t take him that long- either - to get use to private jets, room service, expensive Italian clothes, and other outlandish elite opportunities.... including more lovers that he’d like to admit. “After all, there was so much fucking to be had and with so little effort”. There were soooo many pages in this book where I just ‘had’ to read over and over .... then sit with my own somewhat smirking smile. Absolutely brilliant scene... about our ‘star’ ( Aktar), being a neoliberal courtier.... “not only of inalienable human rights and enlightened rage but also freedom itself, both sexual and monetary, an eager frontline recruit for the purported progressive ideological battles of our time. My awakening from this stupor of self-congratulatory entitlement would be swift and brutal. An accumulation of private and public misfortunes—a copper penny rash on my palms, my mothersdeath, the election of Donald Trump—would disabuse me of my will to benevolent privilege. I’m ashamed it took me so long to wake up to the bankruptcy of this purported moral vision. Until then, I was susceptible; I was culpable; I was a willing and enthusiastic advocate; this vision of the good life felt good indeed; I was a believer in the politically enlightened late-stage capitalist individualist creed; I loved Obama; I was tongue-tied with awe when I met Sergey Brin. Who could blame me? What more, what better, for me, for anyone else, did the world have to offer?” “Before my tumble from this world-view, I spent more time thinking about money than ever before. I knew the life I was leading was predicated on capital. I knew I didn’t have any. How much longer would Riaz let me float along on the swollen river of his seemingly endless lucre? I didn’t know. Money was no object to him, of course, but I could see the writing on the wall”. From riding in the back seat of sleek black Mercedes limousines, he worried about the fallout, and when he would return to his life in a tiny Harlem one bedroom with only his imagination and iPhone. Aktar knew he didn’t want to be dirt poor.... Like I’ve already said— I really can’t say enough ( total brilliance), about this book— ....Our broken hearts of the American dream— ....Falling in love— ... family, education, art, money, race, religion, loss, duty, deceit.... This book takes us on a journey so thoroughly engrossing— deeply about America —-and the language of America— that we see the world Aktar gives us — familiar, yet anew. 5 strong stars - highly recommend!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ari Levine

    Maddeningly glib and discursively self-indulgent, but with occasional flashes of brilliance. More of a collection of autobiographical essays about living as an Ivy-educated American-born-Pakistani ambivalent-Muslim Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright named Ayad Akhtar, who seems too minimally self-aware to be writing an autofictional novel about living in Trump's hypercapitalist and racist America. Reads like late Philip Roth's self-important State of America novels (like The Human Stain or Exit Gh Maddeningly glib and discursively self-indulgent, but with occasional flashes of brilliance. More of a collection of autobiographical essays about living as an Ivy-educated American-born-Pakistani ambivalent-Muslim Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright named Ayad Akhtar, who seems too minimally self-aware to be writing an autofictional novel about living in Trump's hypercapitalist and racist America. Reads like late Philip Roth's self-important State of America novels (like The Human Stain or Exit Ghost), with political diatribes and literary provocations interleaved with overt misogyny, priapic sex, high-end boozing, and literal masturbation. As with late-period Roth, it's all just one-note haranguing that sustains the narrative momentum, but Akhtar doesn't have Roth's sense of structure or skill at pacing. About 100 pages too long, since he (or his authorial mouthpiece) doesn't know when to stop. Would have definitely benefited from a rigorous edit that could contain its explosive logorrhea. Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown for sharing an ARC with me in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    This book felt more like a series of vignettes than a novel. I enjoyed the author’s play Disgraced, which covered some of the same issues (including the position of Muslims in this country), but more succinctly and with more drama. I found many of the author’s insights informative, and it’s always interesting to get another perspective on this country. There is no way for me to know how much of this book is autobiographical, but it certainly felt like he was working out some personal issues thro This book felt more like a series of vignettes than a novel. I enjoyed the author’s play Disgraced, which covered some of the same issues (including the position of Muslims in this country), but more succinctly and with more drama. I found many of the author’s insights informative, and it’s always interesting to get another perspective on this country. There is no way for me to know how much of this book is autobiographical, but it certainly felt like he was working out some personal issues through book, including his relationship with his immigrant parents. I found his mother’s story particularly touching. I also liked the story of the fabulously wealthy hedge fund manager who perhaps had a secret agenda. And of course I cannot disagree with the author’s description of Trump who appeals to the “nasty, brutish and nihilistic” among us. 4.5 stars I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nir Haramati

    Hell yes, Homeland Elegies. A kind of American Pastoral for a time that has perhaps outgrown both the American and the pastoral, replete with ingenuous enthusiasm, academic rigour and mystical peregrinations, cleverness and bawdy sex and reading lists, cris de coeur and confidence tricks; and with deep, sustained thought – a meditation on filial guilt, Islam, social contract theory, masculinity, the shaping and shapeshifting of collective identity, the roosting chickens of a nightmare deferred. I Hell yes, Homeland Elegies. A kind of American Pastoral for a time that has perhaps outgrown both the American and the pastoral, replete with ingenuous enthusiasm, academic rigour and mystical peregrinations, cleverness and bawdy sex and reading lists, cris de coeur and confidence tricks; and with deep, sustained thought – a meditation on filial guilt, Islam, social contract theory, masculinity, the shaping and shapeshifting of collective identity, the roosting chickens of a nightmare deferred. It reverberates, it incites. It is muscular and irascible. It is untender. It is a 21st century love story between (what else?) a man and his context, a man and his conscience, an intelligence that fiercely refuses to suffer the fools of its own false gods. In his answer, of sorts, to the question posed after 9/11 by Toni Morrison: How can it be possible to properly mourn, with a mouth full of blood? Akhtar, unabashed native son, has written a denunciation of American exceptionalism; and, in triumphant paradox, a paean to it. Tracing the line from the moral insouciance of the American ‘founding fathers’ to the unfettered predatory financial adventurism of the 1980s, from the cynical decades of Cold War gamesmanship to the consequent rise of Al-Qaeda, Akhtar evinces an apparent desire to fulminate conversationally, academically, in occasional declamatory ecstasy as a sort of outsider national conscience; Homeland Elegies is sung to the rhythms of an unapologetically Midwestern heart, its lungs now pumping the perfumed air of yesteryear’s Abbottabad, now howling themselves hoarse at a Badgers game. This book interrogates contemporary America in all its tangled nuance – the same America in which, not a decade ago, a smug campaigning Democrat could unironically proclaim, “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive” – without falling prey to easily reductive declarative statements; a tall order, to be sure. Homeland Elegies is a bravura act of self-mythology; a gauntlet thrown at the flabby monolith of contemporary public discourse – the suicidally clamorous landscape in which, as the novel’s belligerent Everyman puts it, authenticity is “measured now in decibels” —; a corrective; a fractured lovesong; and a romping treatise in which a macabre sort of hilarity is never long missing (the direct consequence of a life of neoliberal apoligism is sometimes, as it turns out, syphilis). The book’s targets include: the sentimental, revisionist atavism of contemporary Islam, Christianity, capitalism, liberal democracy; the failure of Medicare; the reactionary disenchantment of immigrants; the homicidal excesses of nationalist mythmaking; the petty myth of a self-governing market; Akhtar excoriates intellectual laziness wherever he finds it, from Ivy League lecture halls where the fragile children of a dwindling middle class are saddled with a lifetime’s worth of irremediable debt, to the bacchanalian reception rooms in which the fine line between modern-day courtier and courtesan blurs into nonexistence. Here, we see described the lust for power, the mercenary intertwining of capitalistic and sexual greed, the unbridled onanism of the so-called American dream; this elegy is not for late capitalism itself, but for those who believed in the promise of its snakeoil, who had the temerity – or the naked, brazen hope – to imagine that the depredations of Flint were not prefigured in the homeland’s founding, foundational act of mass murder in the name of material gain. And all this is taken on with a fluency in the language of dreams and of bankers, of urban academics and smalltown cops, of Punjabi grandmothers, Wall Street sex trade workers, and Pennsylvanian imams. The rich, maddening entanglements and contradictions that rule and texture our lives are both the fodder of great fiction, and the fruit that it bears. If Ayad Akhtar’s play Disgraced was a conversation starter; Elegies is the conversation itself. A great & needed book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    jeremy

    pulitzer prize-winning playwright ayad akhtar's homeland elegies is a bold and beautifully composed work of fiction (however much inspired by and similar to his own life experiences). written "in something of a fever dream" after his mother passed away and the nation elected its forty-fifth consecutive man to the highest office in the land, akhtar's novel is a reckoning: with self, with family, with identity, with race, with faith, with country, and with the world. a personal tale told against t pulitzer prize-winning playwright ayad akhtar's homeland elegies is a bold and beautifully composed work of fiction (however much inspired by and similar to his own life experiences). written "in something of a fever dream" after his mother passed away and the nation elected its forty-fifth consecutive man to the highest office in the land, akhtar's novel is a reckoning: with self, with family, with identity, with race, with faith, with country, and with the world. a personal tale told against the backdrop of a darkening political milieu, homeland elegies is as much a father and son story as it is one about the broken promises, shattered dreams, and placating illusions of a land that, despite its myriad and indefensible flaws, still considers itself the most enviable on the planet. akhtar's america is one seldom seen on glowing screens, glossy pages, or flashy billboards. alas, that america may not exist anywhere save for such places. whether contending with post-9/11 racism, a system that discards the dispirited and downtrodden, or the money worship that is devouring the country from the inside out, akhtar is unflinching in his assessment. clearly the work of an analytical, discerning thinker and all-too-rare adherent to reality-as-it-actually-is, homeland elegies is a lament for the lost. with incisive takes, an invigorating sense of humor, and an introspective bent, akhtar's narrator is seen yearning, yet smart enough to know it's mostly in vain. homeland elegies is poignant and profound. regardless of how much of it is specifically true to his own life, akhtar's novel rings unmistakably lifelike. a candid, trenchant tale, homeland elegies is both requiem and indictment powerfully presented. i wouldn't see it until our private lives had consumed the public space, then been codified, foreclosed, and put up for auction; until the devices that enslave our minds had filled us with the toxic flotsam of a culture no longer worthy of the name; until the bright pliancy of human sentience—attention itself—had become the world's most prized commodity, the very movements of our minds transformed into streams of unceasing revenue for someone, somewhere. i wouldn't see it clearly until the american self had fully mastered the plunder, idealized and legislated the splitting of spoils, and brought to near completion the wholesale pillage not only of the so-called colony—how provincial a locution that seems now!—but also of the very world itself. 4.5 stars

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar was an exceptional book. I don't know what I expected to gain from reading this book but I can say that I got more than I ever expected. Ayad Akhtar is a playwright and novelist. He was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama branding him as an accomplished and successful man. Although Homeland Elegies was described as a novel by Ayad Akhtar, it read more like a memoir. It was hard to distinguish what was purely fiction and what was fact. As I read this book I Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar was an exceptional book. I don't know what I expected to gain from reading this book but I can say that I got more than I ever expected. Ayad Akhtar is a playwright and novelist. He was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama branding him as an accomplished and successful man. Although Homeland Elegies was described as a novel by Ayad Akhtar, it read more like a memoir. It was hard to distinguish what was purely fiction and what was fact. As I read this book I got a true sense of who I imagined Ayad Akhtar (if this is truly his story) to be as a person, as a son, as a struggling playwright turned successful as a Muslim and as an American. Homeland Elegies depicted an intense and intimate look at how Muslims were seen and treated before and after 9/11. One of the many messages depicted within the pages of this book was how American culture and tolerance has been poisoned by self-interest groups and the most wealthy in our country. They have left the middle class and white collar workers stagnant in their pursuits to get ahead. Turbulence and unrest, racism, family dynamics, immigrants plights, and the effects the Trump era has had on our country played major roles in this fascinating story. This was a brilliant, and impressive book that I would recommend highly. I won a copy of Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar in a goodreads give away. Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and Goodreads for affording me the opportunity to read this remarkable book. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    A wonder at provoking thoughts on today’s societal ills in America and the odyssey of first-generation American citizens born to Asian immigrants (and, particularly those, like the author, of Pakistanian immigrant parents). I love such books: part memoir, part fiction, all brilliantly conceived and written in prose that often floats like a melody.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Agha-Jaffar

    Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize winning author for drama, seamlessly blends memoir and fiction. Akhtar uses experiences from his life as the skeletal framework which he fleshes out with fact and fiction. Where the memoir ends and the fiction begins is impossible to discern. Ultimately, it makes no difference. What emerges from this brilliant hybrid of a novel is a raw, convincing, and gripping portrait of America and of life post 9/11 for an American born Muslim son of immigr Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize winning author for drama, seamlessly blends memoir and fiction. Akhtar uses experiences from his life as the skeletal framework which he fleshes out with fact and fiction. Where the memoir ends and the fiction begins is impossible to discern. Ultimately, it makes no difference. What emerges from this brilliant hybrid of a novel is a raw, convincing, and gripping portrait of America and of life post 9/11 for an American born Muslim son of immigrants. Unfolding in the first-person point of view, the narrator and author of the novel have much in common. Both are born in the U.S., are the sons of Pakistani immigrants, and are successful authors awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama. But that is as far as we can go with the comparisons. We don’t know with any certainty when we slip from memoir to fiction or vice versa. The novel reads like a memoir interspersed with a series of essays in which the narrator critiques American capitalism and its obsessive focus on materialism to the detriment of the health and well-being of society as a whole. Akhtar weaves history, political events, and real characters in his narrative to add to the confusing blend of reality versus fiction. His parents are successful doctors. His father embraces all things America, initially lending his whole-hearted support for Donald Trump. The narrator shares with his mother a more critical and nuanced perspective on all things America. Although he was born in America and has lived all his life in America, the narrator experiences “othering” and bigotry as a Muslim person of color in a post 9/11 America. Those experiences, described in vivid and immersive detail, are chilling. His critique extends to fellow Muslims. He argues they have lost focus by adhering to rigid, fundamentalist thinking and by reacting to what others have said about their religion. He suggests they should deconstruct their own behaviors and attitudes and accept some measure of culpability for their failures instead of seeking to blame others. The narrator’s voice is engaging, brutally honest, genuine, not always likeable, and carries with it the appeal of self-disclosure. He struggles with identity. He experiences contradictions as an American born of immigrant parents. He interrogates the culture that victimizes him with its racism and bigotry. He feels the push and pull toward Islam and Muslims. He undergoes a temporary change in attitude when he experiences a moneyed lifestyle. He excoriates an America fragmented by race and class; the diminishing of its middle class; the lifetime of student debt; the unbridled greed of the health care industry; and the decline of critical thinking in education. This combination of memoir and fiction delves deep and covers wide. It is unique, riveting, challenging, and compelling. Highly recommended for its intensity, provocative thinking, originality of form, and sheer brilliance. You can see more of my book reviews at www.tamaraaghajaffar.com

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Homeland Elegies was a revelation, a chance to see American culture and history and politics from the viewpoint of an 'outsider,' even if that outsider was American born. Ayad Akhtar has written a novel with a strong narrative voice that reads like memoir. It's compelling storyline and conflicted characters engage the reader. It is also a novel of ideas, a dissection of social and political culture. How Christian is America? Consider the commercialization of Christian holy days, the Christian base Homeland Elegies was a revelation, a chance to see American culture and history and politics from the viewpoint of an 'outsider,' even if that outsider was American born. Ayad Akhtar has written a novel with a strong narrative voice that reads like memoir. It's compelling storyline and conflicted characters engage the reader. It is also a novel of ideas, a dissection of social and political culture. How Christian is America? Consider the commercialization of Christian holy days, the Christian based place names of cities, the King James Bible language and words that are woven in our writing and speech, how we do personal hygiene, dogs in every home. The accumulation of wealth, buying sprees dependent on credit cards and interest, and the importance of corporate wealth and the power it wields is another theme. It's a Wonderful Life, that beloved Christmas movie, the narrator realizes, was really about money and power. Central to the novel is the experience of living in a racist culture, especially after 9-11. When the narrator's car breaks down in rural Pennsylvania, the narrator finds himself vulnerable. The narrator travels to Pakistan to visit family. Is returning to one's family homeland the answer? The anger that fuels people here is also found abroad. "America is my home," the narrator affirms. Homeland Elegies, this poem that mourns the country of our hopes and dreams, reveals our character like a mirror. It isn't pretty. I was given access to a free galley by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sharon S

    Shocking, stunning, page-turning, truth. This novel took me deeper into the understanding of the different nationalities and beliefs relating to adjustment to moving to a new country like the USA. The author describes his thought processes about a famous play that was established from the hard truths of 9/11. Highly recommend this read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mainlinebooker

    I first heard about Ayad Akhatar when I was fortunate to see his play on Broadway called Disgraced. One of the characters who had a comfortable lifestyle as a lawyer was a Pakistani man. Living in the USA he had to come to grips with the mask he showed to the world and his motives for not showing his true self. Much of this vital examination is contained within this brilliant book. An amalgamation of memoir and fiction, it felt like a world explored in various essays although not written as such I first heard about Ayad Akhatar when I was fortunate to see his play on Broadway called Disgraced. One of the characters who had a comfortable lifestyle as a lawyer was a Pakistani man. Living in the USA he had to come to grips with the mask he showed to the world and his motives for not showing his true self. Much of this vital examination is contained within this brilliant book. An amalgamation of memoir and fiction, it felt like a world explored in various essays although not written as such. Sounds confusing? It is such a unique book! From the different chapters you can explore the relationship between an immigrant father and an American born son and filial guilt, contemplations about race, wealth, and a political world after 9/11 that highlights the changes in the background of this country and how it has led us to the world of Trump. Akhtar pulls no punches. He is brutal in his own honest self examination and urgently explores the political and fiscal issues that colors individuals, focusing on immigrants and minorities.Scrutinizing the ripple effect of one's choices and its cost, he creates a captivating,disconcerting,and compelling work that everyone should read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    During interviews, Ayad Akhtar equivocates on how much of himself inhabits his narrator, despite both having the same name and background. His opinion of the current occupant of the White House is clear, spelled out early in the book, fleshed out as the book progresses. He has said he wanted to describe what it meant to be judged by strangers based solely on his skin color and preconceived ideas regarding his heritage, nevermind his actual history of being born in New Jersey and raised in the mi During interviews, Ayad Akhtar equivocates on how much of himself inhabits his narrator, despite both having the same name and background. His opinion of the current occupant of the White House is clear, spelled out early in the book, fleshed out as the book progresses. He has said he wanted to describe what it meant to be judged by strangers based solely on his skin color and preconceived ideas regarding his heritage, nevermind his actual history of being born in New Jersey and raised in the midwest. Enough has been written about the bombastic blowhard that need not be gone over again, but reading this account of life in America by a prize-winning, Shakespeare loving American, and the sly and not so sly insults and remarks hits like a jab to the gut. The effect on his father, a respected cardiologist who once treated a far different tRump 30 years ago, is even more telling. As Ayad puts it: "Father's enthrallment ..., first nascent, then ascendant, then euphoric, then disappointed, then betrayed and confused, and finally exhausted..." says it all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    Ayad Akhtar deftly blurs the lines between memoir and literary fiction as he explores what it really means to be American in a post 911 era. "Homeland Elegies" is immediate and intense, as well as a deeply personal and tender story of a first generation son and his immigrant father. Throughout the novel, Ayad, the character, ponders issues of politics, society and finances, while perpetually navigating what he considers home. The result is one of the most important books you should read this yea Ayad Akhtar deftly blurs the lines between memoir and literary fiction as he explores what it really means to be American in a post 911 era. "Homeland Elegies" is immediate and intense, as well as a deeply personal and tender story of a first generation son and his immigrant father. Throughout the novel, Ayad, the character, ponders issues of politics, society and finances, while perpetually navigating what he considers home. The result is one of the most important books you should read this year by one of the most interesting writers of our time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Stern

    I was lucky enough to receive an advance reading copy of Homeland Elegies. It is a searing, sophisticated, subversive work that bleeds the line between memoir and fiction. The book is potent marriage of unvarnished truths and twisting fictionalizations—it reads like a memoir but carries you on a novel’s propulsive journey, recounting with startling candor and imagination an unforgettable account of growing up Muslim in America, both before and after 9/11. The book is replete with twisting histor I was lucky enough to receive an advance reading copy of Homeland Elegies. It is a searing, sophisticated, subversive work that bleeds the line between memoir and fiction. The book is potent marriage of unvarnished truths and twisting fictionalizations—it reads like a memoir but carries you on a novel’s propulsive journey, recounting with startling candor and imagination an unforgettable account of growing up Muslim in America, both before and after 9/11. The book is replete with twisting historical asides and perspective-bending turns through the dark pathways that shape the identity of two countries and an individual growing up between them. I couldn’t put this book down and haven’t stop thinking about it since I finished it - highly recommend!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom Mooney

    Homeland Elegies lives and ultimately dies on its peculiar structure. This is neither fiction nor non-fiction. It is a personal project made public. Parts of this book are engaging, insightful and genuinely moving. But, the further you get in, the less connection you feel with Akhtar's story. It goes from a dissection of 20th century America's relationship with its own Muslim population, to quite an academic take on the financial and political landscape. When we're with Akhtar (or his alter-ego, Homeland Elegies lives and ultimately dies on its peculiar structure. This is neither fiction nor non-fiction. It is a personal project made public. Parts of this book are engaging, insightful and genuinely moving. But, the further you get in, the less connection you feel with Akhtar's story. It goes from a dissection of 20th century America's relationship with its own Muslim population, to quite an academic take on the financial and political landscape. When we're with Akhtar (or his alter-ego, at least), there is forward movement, passion, enjoyment. But then he veers off to side stories about characters that are picked up and dropped, to political diatribes that seem to have no place in the story. I just didn't get it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    What a page-turner! All about truth, and I loved this novel!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    I haven't read a book like this in quite some time. A moving and intimate story of a son and his immigrant parents, but somehow epic too, plumbing the political and financial landscape of our country. I had a tough time putting it down.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sadia Abbas

    Homeland Elegies is a beautifully written and unflinching meditation on the American “Dream,” in a moment of Islamophobia, economic crisis, and the unmasking of national rot the Trump years have given us. Playful, daring, unapologetically smart, rejecting the constricting frames within which Muslim-American writing and art are often presented, the novel exposes debt peonage and racial othering as fundaments of our national condition with ruthless clarity.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katy Lasell

    Genre-bending, spellbinding, drives right at the heart + heartbreak of America.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This book will stick with me—the narrator, Ayad or maybe not Ayad (does it really matter?) carries me along his rambling life introducing me to his family and friends. And through them, the world as they see it. And as it treats them. And much of it is cruel and real. From capitalism and Trump to Bork and bigotry, this book can be dark. But it is also funny and warm and loving. It’s a good book to read now.

  24. 5 out of 5

    SandraB

    Stuck at 25%. This book started out very powerfully. I could feel the tension and conflict the author faced, trying to reconcile traditional beliefs with American ideals. He presented the "foreign" viewpoint very well, and I was really interested in learning more about the author and his family's experiences, hopefully in somewhat fictionalized form. (I mean, the title does say "A Novel"...) As I read on, I started feeling disappointed because it was really reading like non-fiction. Maybe it's be Stuck at 25%. This book started out very powerfully. I could feel the tension and conflict the author faced, trying to reconcile traditional beliefs with American ideals. He presented the "foreign" viewpoint very well, and I was really interested in learning more about the author and his family's experiences, hopefully in somewhat fictionalized form. (I mean, the title does say "A Novel"...) As I read on, I started feeling disappointed because it was really reading like non-fiction. Maybe it's because I was trying to read this on the beach... The history presented started to feel like reading a textbook, and the family interactions seemed to go on and on, taking too long to get to a point. I considered not finishing the book and asked a question about whether things change as the book progresses, but no one has answered yet. Given the strong start and the highly positive reviews, I will give this book another try in a quieter environment and a different mindset.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The narrator in this book is so genuinely human; that may sound a little funny, but it can be rare to find a narrator who is honest, flawed, and believable. While this book is a fictional novel, it reads like a collection of essays, all centering on experiences within the narrator’s life and the theme of being Muslim in America. It was brilliantly written and very profound.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mr.M. Clements

    Epic! Mind expanding, moving, disturbing, elegiac big, MUST read. A sensational mind at work here.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melis

    This is a novel that molds time, space and thoughts so beautifully, in a way where both the micro and macro, personal and political coexist seamlessly in each sentence. It is a deep-dive of a story that emotes from a place of genuine grief and introspection, and is a manifesto that deserves a place in the bookshelf of every avid 21st century reader and thinker. Through the gaze of his fictified protagonist, Akhtar very accurately and skillfully captures the ethos of a disenfranchised, fractured This is a novel that molds time, space and thoughts so beautifully, in a way where both the micro and macro, personal and political coexist seamlessly in each sentence. It is a deep-dive of a story that emotes from a place of genuine grief and introspection, and is a manifesto that deserves a place in the bookshelf of every avid 21st century reader and thinker. Through the gaze of his fictified protagonist, Akhtar very accurately and skillfully captures the ethos of a disenfranchised, fractured social psyche: one that is trying to exist and see itself in the wake of a world plagued after 9/11, and is still a long ways away from healing its wounds. Needless to say, an incredible and profound read. Fully recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    It is a distinct and rare pleasure to find a book that weaves together eloquent prose, narrative wit, and intimate character revelation. Akhtar proves himself a master of the form, drawing you into a gripping tale of fame, success, and family. Cleaving a path between the soul-bearing honesty of memoir and the crafted narrative of fiction, the novel unearths a fresh reflection on how diverse identities impact a distinctly American Dream and experience: its promises, rewards, and inevitable shortc It is a distinct and rare pleasure to find a book that weaves together eloquent prose, narrative wit, and intimate character revelation. Akhtar proves himself a master of the form, drawing you into a gripping tale of fame, success, and family. Cleaving a path between the soul-bearing honesty of memoir and the crafted narrative of fiction, the novel unearths a fresh reflection on how diverse identities impact a distinctly American Dream and experience: its promises, rewards, and inevitable shortcomings. A profound examination of the American psyche that exhumes our deepest and most human desires. Tore through this book and one I will return to many times over.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melina

    I completely devoured this in just a few days. It's nothing short of brilliant, breathtaking, and moving. It is at once a deeply personal and gut-wrenching look into the author's life as well as an incisive and unflinchingly honest examination of our country's heart and soul. An exhilarating, vivid, and cinematic read. You will laugh, you will hurt, and you will weep. The most remarkable and explosive memoir I've read in recent memory.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert Blöchl

    Ayad Akhtar puts his life and his perception of America on stage. Storys of the country he was born and raised in, which now is living on the idea of opportunitys long gone. Disarmingly honest in his storytelling and profoundly well researched. A great read.

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