American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

Academic Year: 
American Dervish

American Dervish has been selected for the 2013 Summer Reading Program.

Hayat Shah is a young Pakistani-American who wrestles with his religious identity, tumultuous feelings for his mother's friend, Mina, that he can't explain, and his own sense of himself in Ayad Akhtar's American Dervish.

In many ways, the story is as much Mina's and her mystical embrace of Islam as it is a coming of age story of Hayat. Hayat's wish to earn Mina's respect as a young hafiz, someone who has memorized the entire Quran, gradually comes into conflict with his infatuation for her with terrible and unforeseen consequences. In the end, however, Hayat slowly arrives at an understanding of not only his father's wholesale rejection of Islam but also of Mina's mystical fervor and its demands. He seeks and finds a balance between his cultural identity, his sense of his own family, and his personal values.

American Dervish will be provided to all incoming freshmen at Appalachian, and Ayad Akhtar will speak to members of the campus community and others during Convocation in the Holmes Center on campus, September 10. Akhtar also will participate in other discussions on campus and in the community, on September 11, 2013.

About the Author
Ayad Akhtar

Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of American Dervish, published in 25 languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His stage play Disgraced played at New York's Lincoln Center Theater in 2012, and will be premiering at the Bush Theater in London in May 2013. Disgraced won the Jeff Equity Award for Best New Play in 2012. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has received commissions from Lincoln Center and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.

Supplemental Materials

August 17, 2013

  • 2:00 p.m. - Book Discussion of American Dervish for Incoming First-Year Students

September 10, 2013

  • 10:00 a.m. - Fall Convocation - Holmes Convocation Center, ASU
  • 2:00 p.m. - Q&A Panel Discussion with Faculty, Staff and Students - Blue Ridge Ballroom, Plemmons Student Union
  • 7:30 p.m. - Reading and Book Signing - Blue Ridge Ballroom, Plemmons Student Union (Sponsored by the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series)

September 11, 2013

  • 9:00 a.m. – Theater Reading/Discussion - Blue Ridge Ballroom
  • 10:30 a.m. – Reading, Q&A, and Book Signing - Watauga County Library, Boone (Sponsored by Watauga Reads!)