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From the Publisher
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
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
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.