‘Homeland Elegies’: Ayad Akhtar’s symphony about America essential reading this election year

Advertisement

BEGIN ARTICLE PREVIEW:

Librarians are going to have a hard job deciding where to shelve Ayad Akhtar’s bracing and revealing new book.”Homeland Elegies” (Little, Brown, 343 pp., ★★★½ out of four) follows the story of a Pulitzer-prize-winning American playwright named Ayad Akhtar who was born to Pakistani immigrant parents. These are facts from the author’s own life, but those who choose to call this book a memoir are on their own. If avoiding categorizations is what allowed Akhtar to pull off this masterful combination of essay and diary, I’m glad he did. “Homeland Elegies” is a symphony about America. It is also very personal.As he writes about important episodes in “his” life, Akhtar explores the bind American writers of Middle Eastern descent have been in since 9/11: that they must present themselves as unabashedly patriotic or risk being seen as enemies. As he relates his encounters with anti-Muslim prejudice, from a harassing cop to a fetishizing lover, Akhtar conveys the anger he feels to be “persistently humiliated and under attack in the only country I’d ever known, a place that the more I understood, the less I felt I belonged.” His intellectual explorations of identity and self-presentation are coupled with …

END ARTICLE PREVIEW

READ MORE FROM SOURCE ARTICLE