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Homeland Elegies

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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  14,024 ratings  ·  2,003 reviews
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 forge
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 15th 2020 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  14,024 ratings  ·  2,003 reviews


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Elyse  Walters
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hall-tbr-1
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 ...more
Liz
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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
...more
Ari Levine
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
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
...more
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
...more
Malia
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The hype is justified! I was hesitant to read this for a while there, because so many lauded books were disappointing to me last year, but I am happy to report, this one lived up to high expectations. I had heard about it ages ago, when the author was a guest on a podcast, and he was so eloquent and seemed very thoughtful that I was quick to add the book to my tbr and then forgot about it again, because my tbr is an out of control beast...
It's difficult to describe this book. Is it fiction? Nonf
...more
Diane S ☔
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Part fiction, though it reads as narrative non fiction, part memoir and could even be described as a book of connecting essays. Very different, original and thought provoking, this insight into a Muslim author and his family.

How we as Americans are viewed, how we treat those we consider other, untrustworthy, unwanted. How it feels to be the other, judged, condemned, trying to fit in, live alongside, be part of, but never quite fitting. After 9/11 judge and condemned as a whole, hated, attacked,
...more
Lisa
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-favorites
By removing the boundaries between fiction, memoir and essays, Akhtar has created something new, confusing and brilliant. He doesn't hold anything back in this searing examination of his family, country, art, post 9/11 life. Is it true? Is this his life? Maybe, probably, does it matter? Remarkably, the book doesn't get bogged down by its ambitions - every page feels essential.

Homeland Elegies is about being American and an outsider in the 21st century, but more than anything, it is about Akhtar
...more
Justin Tate
Jun 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Homeland Elegies (2020) is a "novel" that seems to riff off the 2016 memoir Hillbilly Elegy. Both books succeed at offering family anecdotes to reveal something about the American political experience. With Hillbilly we got a view into Appalachian values that offered some unique case studies for understanding why the Obamas were so despised by poor whites. The memoir was an instant success that grew even more popular when Democrats scrambled to understand how a monster like Trump could receive e ...more
Barbara
“I wanted to find a form that would express this confusion between fact and fiction which seems to increasingly become the texture of our reality or unreality," ---(Author Ayad Akhtar’s reason for writing a fiction/memoir combo)

Mission accomplished, at least for me. I chose to listen to author Ayad Akhtar’s much praised “Homeland Elegies” because he narrates it. I feel that when an author narrates their own work, the feelings that he is expressing in written word are portrayed by his voice. As a
...more
Esil
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel is brilliant. Akhtar writes a fictional account of his adult life with a special focus on his father. His parents are originally from Pakistan and he grew up in Milwaukee where his father worked as a cardiologist. Nothing about Akhtar’s perspective or his parents’ perspective is predictable or simplistic. Akhtar dwells on contemporary politics and issues of belonging and not belonging. His novel is a non linear meditation full of insight, irreverence, self-reflexion and complex love f ...more
Doug
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a longtime fan of Akhtar as a playwright, finding 3 of his 4 plays exemplary (I'll explain the one exception momentarily), so was eager to make my way through this odd hybrid of novel/memoir (which I guess makes it fall under the popular rubric 'auto-fiction') - especially once it found its way on to so many 'best of 2020' lists. And for the most part this didn't disappoint - most of the more personal stories were poignant, timely, memorable and effective, making one all too painfully ...more
Betsy Robinson
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
The only reason this book is called a novel instead of a memoir (which is what it is) is that legally that is the only way it could be published. From the get-go, to recount doctor/patient conversations when the doctor is Akhtar’s father and the patient is Donald Trump would make this a landmine of legal actions and ethics breaches.

There is so much content, I can’t begin to review or even process what I learned and what I believe is true and where personality grated on me to a point where I tur
...more
Tom Mooney
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
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,
...more
Chris
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Homeland Elegies is sensational: a gripping, moving, haunting, insightful collection of linked stories with hints of memoir. Ayad Akhtar has offered a searing, urgent portrait of what it means to be an outsider in America, how the U.S. wound up such a divided train wreck, and the mysteries that are always unveiled when we really (and finally) get to know our parents.
Trudie
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5

I believe I read this memoir/novel/series of essays at just the right time.
Ayad Akhtar's astute observations on American life found a reader already preoccupied with the question of "how did America find itself held captive to a demagogue?" This book while not ostensibly setting out to answer that timeless question, nevertheless has come closest to any I have read so far in providing answers.

It is almost impossible to tease out fiction from autobiography here, so I guess it falls under th
...more
Kathleen
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Playwright Akhtar won the Pulitzer Prize for “Disgraced” in 2013. His familiarity with stagecraft with its focus on dramatic moments to engage the audience is evident in this novel. It is an amalgamation of fact and fiction, memoir and autobiography that is designed to engage the reader in ‘Instagram-like’ short bursts.

Akhtar was born on Staten Island to Pakistani physicians (American hospitals were recruiting foreign-born physicians in the 1960s). Indeed, his cardiologist father treated the fut
...more
David
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
What an odd hybrid of a book this is, oscillating frequently between stimulating explorations of cultural identity and stultifying descriptions of one writer's personal and professional development. There is clearly much more fact than fiction on the page, calling into question Akhtar's insistence that he's written "a novel". His rationale for doing so is made clear in the epigraph from Alison Bechdel:

I can only make things up about things that have already happened...

Be that as it may, Homeland
...more
Faith
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Perry
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ken
Jun 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
On the cover, in letters almost as large as the title, we get the words "A NOVEL." Thanks for telling me, I want to say, because it sure reads like Ayad Akhtar's memoir to me. A story chiefly of his father, a Pakistani doctor working in America and, at least at first, enamored of Donald T**** before he became a candidate for president.

In fact, that's the only part that looks fictional. Akhtar's father, a cardiologist, treats businessman T**** for a heart condition, and I don't think he has a hea
...more
Nir Haramati
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jill
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
At the beginning of this brilliant novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning Ayad Akhtar, his father – a renowned cardiologist and an expert in arrhythmia – is treating prized patient Donald Trump in the 1990s. The two form a kind of bond.

We know that Akhtar’s father was, in fact, a famous cardiologist. But did this event happen? Is it true or made up or just enhanced? And, does it really matter?

That is the mastery of this auto-fictional novel that often crosses the boundaries to essays and memoir. Anyo
...more
Darryl Suite
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Akhtar labels this work as a novel, and who am I to challenge him on that? But, truthfully, this book reads more like a collection of essays or even a memoir. I feel as if I need to take a deep breath every time I pick it up. For example: The first chapter examines the rise of Trump’s political power. And let me tell you, no stone is left unturned. I have struggled with understanding what people initially saw in Trump; how so many ignored his dangerous message; how so many people dismissed him a ...more
Linda
The established majority takes its " we- image" from a minority of its best and shapes its "they- image" of the despised outsider from the minority of their worst.
Norbert Elias, German- Jewish sociologist, 1933 (p.135)

The quote cited above epitomizes one of the central dilemmas of Pulitzer Prize-winning
playwright, Ayad Akhtar's novel/ memoir about being Muslim-American post 9/11. Akhtar, the son of two Pakistani immigrant doctors, is both the victim of prejudice and harassment and a member o
...more
John Banks
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
4

Akhtar's Homeland Elegies is a thoughtful and incisive novel about contemporary USA. I read it in the week leading up to the USA presidential election and found it to be incredibly revealing about many of the issues dividing and shaping the nation.

The book is something of a novel, memoir, reflective essay, historical and political analysis written from the particular perspective of a Pakistani family immigrant experience in the USA. The narrator (sharing Akhtar's name) isn't particularly a pra
...more
jeremy
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This book is a bit of a mash-up — part fiction, part memoir, part essay. Overall it explores family and cultural identity, and takes a hard look at modern American society, its systems and politics.
Nadine
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I agree with all the accolades this book is getting for its under-the-skin portrayal of being a Muslim American man in the US, the depth of its father-son portrait, and some painfully acute social and political analysis. See esp. page 241-2, where a successful black talent agent in LA gives a brutal analysis of the failure of liberalism and the rise of Trump that's even more of a punch in the face now, in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election. And oh my god, the writing. The page-long fir ...more
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 ...more
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Ayad Akhtar is a playwright, novelist, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the author of American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.), published in over 20 languages and named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012. As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nom ...more

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