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Osama Van Halen

3.28  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Amazing Ayyub, an Iranian Shi'ite skinhead, and Rabeya, a burqa-wearing punk, have kidnapped Matt Damon and are holding him hostage. They demand that Hollywood depict Muslims in a positive light—“just one movie where we're not these two-dimensional al Qaeda stereotypes.” But Damon's concerned they're playing into that same terrorist paradigm, thereby furthering the neocons ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Soft Skull Press
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Feb 16, 2014 Malcolm rated it it was ok
I am pretty sure I am not the intended audience for this book (although with a pretty good grasp of the interplay of denominations within Islam, of the pop culture context this addresses, the politics of the era at play - although out here in the English provinces I will admit I am a long way from the youth cultures at the core of the book) with its irreverent, post-modern political take early 21st century Islamic youth cultures in the USA. I really liked the idea (more than the execution) of Kn ...more
Jul 14, 2016 Melinda rated it it was ok
Really, I don't know what to say about this book. It's offensive and obscene, but it's intentionally so. The objectification of women is blatant, and I thought Knight was unaware of how very sexist his work is, but in the end one of Knight's characters "addresses" that issue, you could say. There are some clever bits of satire scattered through the book, but it's an uncomfortable read, and I still don't know what to think of it.
Jul 11, 2009 Zack rated it liked it
Please click this link for my review:

Dec 12, 2015 Wawan rated it really liked it
Osama Van Halen is not the kind of novel that presents a "world" one can enjoy as a microcosm. Several times, it stops short just before it creates a solid narrative of certain topics. However, this tendency is consistent with the sufistic spirit of self-effacement that the narrator keeps mentioning in the novel. In the first life action part of the novle, Amazing Ayyub initially joins force with Rabeya (both are main characters in Michael Muhammad Knight's first novel The Taqwacores) in kidnapp ...more
Shaina Leitch
May 24, 2014 Shaina Leitch rated it it was ok
I was actually pretty disappointed in this book. The Taqwacores is one of my favorites and remains as one of my go-to drinking subjects. And, being that that was my only MMK experience, my expectations of Osama Van Halen were rather high.
While I liked the idea of the author turning himself into a fictional character, it made the reading experience a little odd. The characters were kind of all over the place and so was the storyline. Matt Damon is abducted but then disappears with Rabeya, who sh
Saba Razvi
Mar 08, 2010 Saba Razvi rated it liked it
This book is interesting when read alongside "The Taqwacores". On its own, I'm not sure how well it would work. It seems part memoir, part story, part explication of the aforementioned novel. I might have liked it better if the stories in the book were more fleshed out. It was, however, fun to encounter characters like Amazing Ayyub and Basim (who is a real life person and also a character, like the writer himself) and Rabia. The use of zombies was wholly unexpected. I'd recommend it to those wh ...more
Mar 17, 2010 N.S. rated it really liked it
I would have read this in one sitting, but night fell and I was already way behind on sleep. Still, the total elapsed time from the start of the process to its finish was 17 hours, so you could say I couldn't put it down.

It's certainly not for everyone. You'll need a rough grasp of world religions, politics and pop culture, otherwise you will be lost. However, the thing fiction does best is allow us to enter worlds unlike our own, and in doing so expand the scope of our understanding. Want to k
Matt Friedman
Apr 04, 2015 Matt Friedman rated it it was ok
As a kind of quasi-autobiographical follow-up to The Taqwacores, this was actually quite disappointing, particularly on the level of raw vulgarity. Having read a number of other MMK books earlier, there is a feeling of a being puked on by an otherwise generally-admired acquaintance, or perhaps having received some sort of unsolicited confession. Even for MMK aficionados, this might be worth skipping.
Nov 29, 2009 Jesse rated it liked it
The sequel to the much tamer Taqwacores fictional account of Islamic punk rock. Osama Van Halen has sex, violence and a bunch of Arabic words I don't understand! About a Shia skinhead who battles zombies, psychobilly djinni's, and a poseur Muslim emo band called Shah 79. The author writes himself into the story only to get beheaded at the end by a riot grrrl in a burka. Enjoyably twisted sense of humor.
Jan 08, 2016 Jason rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, humor
One of the cooler subcultures I've encountered in a book: taqwacores or Muslim punks. The story of Amazing Ayyub, a taqwacore battling zombies and other mythical creatures on a mission to rid the world of the first Muslim emo group, which threatens the purity of the taqwacore scene, and also of the author himself who struggles with his own Islamic faith and with an exaggerated, fictionalized version of himself who needs to be destroyed.
Jun 20, 2010 Don rated it really liked it
Embarrassingly (or not), pretty much everything I know about Islam comes from MMK's novels.

If you haven't read Taqwacores, this novel (?!) will not make a bit of sense. If you didn't like Taqwacores, you will hate it. But what the fuck, you should read it anyway because it's amazing. Read Taqwacores and then this and then kidnap Matt Damon.

Michael Muhammad Knight and Joshua Cohen are my favorite young writers. Fucking maniacs. Give me more more more.
Jan 27, 2010 Richmond rated it it was amazing
A ripping, deconstructed novel in which the author has a major role, about Muslim punk bands and the state of post-modern, post-9/11 Islam. The climax of the book unfortunately mirrors a real-life event which happened four years after the author wrote his book. Totally interesting, brutal, and yet fun stuff. Am looking forward to reading Taqwacores.
Nov 16, 2012 Yasmin rated it liked it
Kind of experimental; the book weaves from straight first-person narrative from the author's perspective, to a loose plot involving zombies. There are some interesting parts, but definitely not my favorite Michael Muhammad Knight.
Jan 13, 2016 Tom rated it it was ok
This book was 200 pgs of the author detailing his sexual/white guilt but I enjoyed the writing style too much to truly hate it.
Dec 24, 2008 Oriana marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-soon
Who is this crazy person with all these insane books? Soft Skull is publishing five of his books this year & next. WTF I'd better hurry up & start reading.
Jul 26, 2011 Ronald rated it really liked it
Mike Knight moves to the next level on his creative and mesmerizing story of Muslim punk in the USA and it's impact on attitudes of traditional Muslims and others toward this very unique movement.
Aaron Vlek
Aaron Vlek rated it it was amazing
Aug 30, 2012
Kevin rated it really liked it
Jun 11, 2014
Adiwijaya Iskandar Ismail
Adiwijaya Iskandar Ismail rated it really liked it
Jun 28, 2010
Tom Blais
Tom Blais rated it really liked it
Sep 28, 2014
Azzief rated it liked it
Aug 14, 2011
Sam rated it really liked it
Feb 16, 2010
Matt rated it it was amazing
Nov 03, 2011
Jill Delaney
Jill Delaney rated it did not like it
Oct 29, 2010
Chris Hawk
Chris Hawk rated it liked it
Aug 02, 2015
Eric rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2010
Frank rated it really liked it
Apr 26, 2012
Sara Lily
Sara Lily rated it liked it
Mar 10, 2010
Veeler.Play rated it did not like it
Mar 10, 2016
Alyssa rated it liked it
Mar 16, 2015
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Michael Muhammad Knight (born 1977) is an American novelist, essayist, and journalist. His writings are popular among American Muslim youth. The San Francisco Chronicle described him as "one of the most necessary and, paradoxically enough, hopeful writers of Barack Obama's America," while The Guardian has described him as "the Hunter S. Thompson of Islamic literature," and his non-fiction work exe ...more
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