Date(s) - 02/12/2022
10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar. September 2020, 368 pages. Finalist for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Pakistani-American Muslim immigrants; 1970s to 2020.
Memoir, fiction, autofiction, autobiography, metafiction, non-fiction? A mix of all of the above? However you choose to label it, Homeland Elegies is a terrific story. Akhtar mixes love for the idea of America with rage at its imperfections and sadness at how far we’ve slipped from whatever noble ideals we once held. Three major threads run through Homeland Elegies. First there’s the family dynamic. Akhtar’s mother and father emigrated to Wisconsin from Pakistan. His mother never adapts to America, forever mourning the loss of her homeland. His father is an unforgettable character, a talented surgeon with large appetites who throws himself enthusiastically into the American pool without ever quite learning how to swim in it. Second, we get a broader look at the Muslim experience in America from the author’s encounters with high-achieving immigrants and their children. They’ve mastered the economic system while staying skeptical about the culture that props it up. Finally, there’s Akhtar’s own life story – upper-middle class kid in Wisconsin, struggling writer in New York, globetrotting public intellectual rubbing shoulders with marquee names in politics, arts and tech. Amazon.