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I, Migrant: A comedian's journey from Karachi to the outback

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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  199 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Despite nearly being killed by a kangaroo and almost lynched and run out of town after his comedy was taken far too seriously, Sami Shah is very happy to be living in Australia. He has fronted his own satirical show on TV in Karachi, worked as a journalist and been a highly regarded newspaper columnist - all dangerous occupations to be involved in - when the combination of ...more
Kindle Edition, 220 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Allen & Unwin (first published August 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Start your review of I, Migrant: A comedian's journey from Karachi to the outback
K.J. Charles
Remarkable. An incredibly readable account of a stand up comedian's early life, forays into advertising, job in news media, etc, except he's living and working in Karachi around the time of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, when suicide bombings became a common occurrence and religious fundamentalism really took off. It's an extraordinary combination, not least because of the sense of people desperately trying to have a normal life or at least persuade themselves that things aren't horrifyingly ou ...more
Anna Scott
The best thing I can say about this book is that I stayed up until 5AM to finish reading it, despite being ill and needing the rest.

Sami Shah's prose feels fluid and seamless, pulling you through the book at an effortless pace. The book is informative without being dry, political without being preachy, witty without being smug. The tone shifts from funny to sad without ever being jarring.

Here's a few signs you're reading a good book:
- you're grabbed on the very first page.
- you stop to read out
...more
Sally906
Sami certainly has a good sense of humour and that comes through in his story. I first saw him when he appeared on ‘Australian Story’ and really enjoyed his story, so I presumed that I, MIGRANT would expand on his interesting story. Which it does, and it is a fascinating firsthand look at both Australian and Pakistani politics, terrorism and life as a newcomer to Australia. The book covers various parts of his life, his first romance, meeting his wife, attending university in the USA, worked in ...more
Misha Ali
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fellow Karachiite who migrated to Australia, I loved the authenticity and humor in this book. Sami's account of life in Karachi is interspersed with all the well known tragedies and calamities of the last two decades.

My worry with this book was that there might be too much reused material from his stand up comedy and not enough of a narrative. As much as I enjoyed his stand up work in Karachi and now on YouTube, nobody wants to hear the same jokes multiple times. Rest assured, Sami spends j
...more
Katie
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just fantastic. I learned so much about the experience of living in Pakistan as a "regular' person, as compared to the fifteen second snippets that turn up on the news whenever there's a conflict in the region. And then there are Shah's comments on what it is like living/interacting with the Western world as a Pakistani - something I'd more or less guessed at, but seeing it written from a first person perspective obviously gives it more depth.

But mostly, there's Mr Sami Shah, his family, friends
...more
Saima
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting read, could even be inspirational for a to be stand up comedian. Being a Pakistani "legal immigrant" to Australia, I can relate to a lot of things said. Some bits are hilarious, and some very disturbing facts about the change in Pakistan's basic ideological fabric have been very eloquently narrated.some aspects of life in Karachi are things that us living in other parts of the country only saw in news as if that was another world.
What I loved most was being inside the mind of a come
...more
Déwi
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
three stars for the first half but by the time he reached Australia I loved him and so four stars! I haven't seen Australian Story - saw this book on the 'new releases' shelf and as I love reading about migrant stories had to buy it. Glad I did! Hope Sami Shah performs in Canberra as I would love to see his show. This is an honest (sometimes too honest - not sure I needed to know about his mastubatory habits) and interesting read. Australia is lucky to have Sami Shah and his family here. ...more
Amanda Meggs
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sami Shah has lived through many trauma inducing situations and can still manage to put a humorous spin on them. This is a biography of his life growing up in Pakistan, moving to America to study and finishing with his move to Australia. It's very interesting, particularly his work life in Pakistan for Dawn News, there are so many frightening situations, he must have nightmares.

Definitely worth reading.
...more
Kay Hart
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sami Shah. I, Immigrant (Allen & Unwin. 2014)

In this memoir Sami Shah ‘tells the hilarious and moving story of what it’s like to leave the home you love to start a new life in another country so your child can be safe and grow up with a limitless future.’
I really loved the Prologue in this book as it describes Sami’s encounter with animals killed on Australia’s roads and more particularly with a large red kangaroo. It truly sets the scene straight away; the level of humour, the undertone of the
...more
Sam Still Reading
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for a funny and moving autobiography
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: from publisher & TRR
When a book makes you laugh on the first page, you know you’re on to a winner. With I, Migrant, Sami Shah tells us a story that is shocking and violent but ultimately full of humour and hope. It’s a story that allows the average Australian to compare how peaceful and relaxed day to day life is here with that for someone in Karachi, Pakistan where it is accepted that you will be robbed at gunpoint and it’s nothing to do your school exams as bombs fall.

Sami starts his story with one that has happe
...more
Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling

My View:
Sami Shah writes with an evocative truth that will take you through a range of emotions. Living in Pakistan and experiencing such turmoil, violence, fear and discrimination is one that most Westerners will never understand or appreciate. I (and my family) spent eighteen months living in Sri Lanka in 1993/1994 and though I did not experience terrorism first hand, I did experience its effect on the people around me and the community I was living in. It became the norm to expect to be searc
...more
Silpa Kohler
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book follows Sami Shah’s life from selling his soul as a junior art director at an advertising agency (JWT) to working a number of highly unsociable hours at Karachi’s Dawn News, where he covered one too many gory events. The attempted assassination of Benezir Bhutto, during which his close colleague was almost killed, was the last straw for Shah and following this, he decided to leave and explore his career into the world of comedy further. Having dabbled in some improvisation with the ver ...more
Rania T
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, what can I say? Hope this book is not on sale in Pakistan, as it would be swiftly relegated to the naughty cupboard under every school librarian's desk in the country, as is every other 'notorious' book that comes their way. (Jeffrey Archer anyone???) But saying that, I feel that Sami Shah is suffering from a 'gora' complex and has written this book to appeal to a Western audience with his preconceived notions of what they want to read about Pakistan, not really what goes on there. In sayi ...more
Pete
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
, Migrant (2014) by Sami Shah is a book about Shah's experience growing up in Pakistan, going to college in the US, working in Pakistan during recent turbulent times and then moving to Australia. Shah is a stand up comedian and he manages to make the sometimes horrific material engaging and funny.

The book's sections on Pakistan are remarkable and readable. Daily life in Karachi is presented and the picture is incredible. Regular theft at gunpoint and bombings are something citizens of the capita
...more
Cheyenne Blue
This wasn't what I was expecting from the book blurb. From the blurb, I was expecting a book about a Pakistani comedian who migrates to Oz and is relating his experiences in a rural community. Instead, the majority of the book is about Shah's life and experiences in journalism and performing stand up comedy in Pakistan. Only approximately 10% of the book is about his migrant experiences in Australia.

I found it fairly dull, but that's because I'm not particularly interested in journalism and come
...more
Rhoda
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book as part of First Reads and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The author writes extremely well and is able to paint pictures with words so well!

The parts about life in Pakistan were fascinating...I can't imagine a life where bomb blasts etc are normal and would not wish that on anyone.

It was also very interesting to read about the ways in which a comedian goes about gathering their material and trying it out on audiences. I guess it was something I had never really thought about bef
...more
Leo Boudib
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not every day you read a book that makes you laugh aloud in public spaces, but whether you're on a bus, in a cafe or the quiet reading section of the library, expect a few raised eyebrows as you pay lol homage to the many introspective insights and disconcerting revelations Sami reveals about the human psyche, Pakistani, American and Australian cultures. Sami's journey is inspiring, yet his wealth of activities and knowledge leaves me wondering if he ever actually sleeps.
I hope he, Ishma a
...more
Kyle Mullen
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We had an autobiography/memoir unit for my English class where we had to pick out a book and read it, when I picked up this book my original goal was just to find a book that wouldn't bore me out of my mind. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this book not only sparked my interest, but also managed to give me a few laughs along the way. It's hilarious and a really good book, if you're in need of a good read, this is your kind of literature. It could only be improved by possibly spending ...more
Tariq Mahmood
What a delightely engaging and hilarious autobiography. Sami's story kept me captivated throughout the whole time. I also felt that the book wasedited nicely with short sharp chapters. Sami's observations about Pakistan and Australia were thought provoking and kinda made sense. I particularly enjoyed reading about his experiences within the nascent entertainment industry in Pakistan.

Wonderful read.
...more
Rosemary
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Pakistani standup comedian who is the first to perform in English. What a tale this is. You get a kind of history of modern Karachi and Pakistan, as well as a life story, told with frankness and humour. How did he end up avoiding kangaroos as he drove north from Perth? It is a great first volume of his autobiography as I hope he writes more.
Brooner
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating insight into life in Karachi, and Pakistani life world-wide, especially the migrant experience of Australia. Filled with humour, and a thoughtful commentary of some of the experiences faced by Muslims and migrants both at home and abroad.
Sharon
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really great book, I found it fascinating to gain insight into what life is like for those who live in Pakistan.
I know of this comedian from articles in the paper and will probably pay more attention to his work after reading this book.
David
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who would've thought that a young Pakistani, that honed his comedic skills amid suicide bombers in Karachi, would find himself changes attitudes in rural (and urban) Australia! A really enjoyable book! ...more
Monica
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a very interesting book. I expected it to be funnier than it was, although it was funny. I feel like I have a much better sense of what modern-day Pakistan is like after having read this book.
Merzi
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A hilarious tongue in cheek humoured book. The lighter side of Pakistan, Karachi and Northam.
LaToya Donnellan
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read. Insightful, inspiring, horrifying and hilarious.
Rebecca
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written, a great story, and a fantastic insight into someone else's life. Highly recommended ...more
Susan Mapp
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfect mixture if comedy, history, culture and current events!
Megan Howe
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating - and scary - insight into life in Karachi and Pakistan, through the eyes of a very funny man who seems to tell it like it is. I laughed at lots of parts and was horrified by others.
Oanh
Feb 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Both a heart warming and heart breaking story (or perhaps more accurately - stories), with lots of laughs out loud (does what it says on the tin!) Great to get a more nuanced perspective.
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Pakistani Comedian and writer Sami Shah has been profiled in the New York Times and ABC's The Australian Story.

His autobiography, "I, MIGRANT" has been nominated for the NSW Premier's Literary Award WA Premier's Literary Award, and the Russell Prize for Humour Writing.

His first novel "FIRE BOY" was released in June 2016, with the sequel due in early 2017.

Sami writes columns for, Fairfax Media, the
...more

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