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By Ayad Akhtar
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This “beautiful novel . . . has echoes of The Great Gatsby“: an immigrant father and his son search for belonging—in post-Trump America, and with each other (Dwight Garner, New York Times).
One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year
One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2020
A Best Book of 2020 * Entertainment Weekly * Washington Post * O Magazine * New York Times Book Review * Publishers Weekly * NPR * The Economist * Shelf Awareness * Library Journal * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Slate
Finalist for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation’s unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one—least of all himself—in the process.
“Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable.” —Salman Rushdie
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I can only make things up about things that have already happened…
Overture: To America
I had a professor in college, Mary Moroni, who taught Melville and Emerson, and who the once famous Norman O. Brown—her mentor—called the finest mind of her generation; a diminutive, cherubic woman in her early thirties with a resemblance to a Raphaelesque putto that was not incidental (her parents had immigrated from Urbino); a scholar of staggering erudition who quoted as easily from the Eddas and Hannah Arendt as she did from Moby-Dick; a lesbian, which I only mention because she did, often; a lecturer whose turns of phrase were sharp as a German paring knife, could score the brain’s gray matter and carve out new grooves along which old thoughts would reroute, as on that February morning two weeks after Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, when, during a class on life under early American capitalism, Mary, clearly interrupted by her own tantalizing thought, looked up from the floor at which she usually gazed as she spoke—her left hand characteristically buried in the pocket of the loose-fitting slacks that were her mainstay—looked up and remarked almost offhandedly that America had begun as a colony and that a colony it remained, that is, a place still defined by its plunder, where enrichment was paramount and civil order always an afterthought. The fatherland in whose name—and for whose benefit—the predation continued was no longer a physical fatherland but a spiritual one: the American Self. Long trained to worship its desires—however discreet, however banal—rather than question them, as the classical tradition taught, ever-tumescent American self-regard was the pillaging patria, she said, and the marauding years of the Reagan regime had only expressed this enduring reality of American life with greater clarity and transparency than ever before.
Mary had gotten into some trouble the previous semester for similarly bracing remarks about American hegemony in the wake of Desert Storm. A student in the ROTC program taking her class complained to the administration that she was speaking out against the troops. He started a petition and set up a table in the student union. The brouhaha led to an editorial in the campus paper and threats of a protest that never actually materialized. Mary wasn’t cowed. After all, this was the early ’90s, and the consequences of astringent ideological fire and brimstone—or sexual abuse of power, while you’re at it—were hardly what they are today. If anyone had a problem with what she said that afternoon, I didn’t hear about it. The truth is, I doubt many of us even understood what she was getting at. I certainly didn’t.
Worship of desire. Tumescent self-regard. A colony for pillage.
In her words was the power of a great negation, a corrective to a tradition of endless American self-congratulation. It was new to me. I was accustomed to the God-blessed, light-of-the-world exceptionalism that informed every hour I’d ever spent in history class. I’d come of age in the era of the hilltop city gleaming for all to see. Such were the glorified tropes I learned at school, which I saw not as tropes but as truth. I saw an American benevolence in Uncle Sam’s knowing glare at the post office; heard an American abundance in the canned laugh tracks on the sitcoms I watched every night with my mother; felt an American security and strength as I pedaled my ten-speed Schwinn past split-level and two-story homes in the middle-class subdivision where I grew up. Of course, my father was a great fan of America back then. To him, there was no greater place in the world, nowhere you could do more, have more, be more. He couldn’t get enough of it: camping in the Tetons, driving through Death Valley, riding to the top of the arch in St. Louis before hopping a riverboat down to Louisiana to fish for bass in the bayou. He loved visiting the historic sites. We had framed our photos of trips to Monticello and Saratoga and to the house on Beals Street in Brookline where the Kennedy brothers were born. I recall a Saturday morning in Philadelphia when I was eight and Father scolding me for whining through a crowded tour of rooms somehow connected with the Constitution. When it was over, we took a cab to the famous steps at the museum, and he raced me to the top—letting me win!—in homage to Rocky Balboa.
Love for America and a firm belief in its supremacy—moral and otherwise—was creed in our home, one my mother knew not to challenge even if she didn’t quite share it. Like both Mary’s parents—as I would later learn from Mary herself—my mother never found in the various bounties of her new country anything like sufficient compensation for the loss of what she’d left behind. I don’t think Mother ever felt at home here. She thought Americans materialistic and couldn’t understand what was so holy about the orgy of acquisition they called Christmas. She was put off that everyone always asked where she was from and never seemed bothered that they had no idea what she was talking about when she told them. Americans were ignorant not only of geography but of history, too. And most troubling to her was what she thought connected to this disregard of important things, namely, the American denial of aging and death. This last irritation would yield a malevolent concretion over the years, a terror-inducing bête noire that saw her to her grave, the thought that growing old here would mean her eventual sequestering and expiration in a “home” that was nothing like one.
My mother’s views—however rarely voiced—should have prepared me to understand Mary’s dyspeptic take on this country, but they didn’t. Not even my Islam prepared me to see what Mary saw, not even after 9/11. I remember a letter from her in the months following that terrifying day in September that changed Muslim lives in America forever, a ten-page missive in which she encouraged me to take heart, to learn what I could from the trouble ahead, confiding that her struggles as a gay woman in this country—the sense of siege, the unceasing assaults on her quest for wholeness, the roughness of her route to autonomy and authenticity—that all these had been but fires beneath her crucible, provoking creative rage, tempering sentimentality, releasing her from hope in ideology. “Use the difficulty; make it your own” was her admonition. Difficulty had been the flint stone against which her powers of analysis were sharpened, the how and why of what she saw, but which I still wouldn’t see truly with my own eyes for fifteen years to come, my deepening travails as a Muslim in this country notwithstanding. No. I wouldn’t see what Mary saw until I’d been witness to the untimely decline of a generation of colleagues exhausted by the demands of jobs that never paid them enough, drowning in debt to care for children riddled with disorders that couldn’t be cured; and the cousins—and the best friend from high school—who ended up in shelters or on the street, tossed out of houses they could no longer afford; and until the near-dozen suicides and overdoses of fortysomething childhood classmates in a mere space of three years; and the friends and family medicated for despair, anxiety, lack of affect, insomnia, sexual dysfunction; and the premature cancers brought on by the chemical shortcuts for everything from the food moving through our irritable bowels to the lotions applied to our sun-poisoned skins. I wouldn’t see it until our private lives had consumed the public space, then been codified, foreclosed, and put up for auction; until the devices that enslave our minds had filled us with the toxic flotsam of a culture no longer worthy of the name; until the bright pliancy of human sentience—attention itself—had become the world’s most prized commodity, the very movements of our minds transformed into streams of unceasing revenue for someone, somewhere. I wouldn’t see it clearly until the American Self had fully mastered the plunder, idealized and legislated the splitting of the spoils, and brought to near completion the wholesale pillage not only of the so-called colony—how provincial a locution that seems now!—but also of the very world itself. In short, I wouldn’t see what she saw back then until I’d failed at trying to see it otherwise, until I’d ceased believing in the lie of my own redemption, until the suffering of others aroused in me a starker, clearer cry than any anthem to my own longing. I read Whitman first with Mary. I adored him. The green leaves and dry leaves, the spears of summer grass, the side-curved head ever avid for what came next. My tongue, too, is homegrown—every atom of this blood formed of this soil, this air. But these multitudes will not be my own. And these will be no songs of celebration.
A Chronology of the Events
1964–68 My parents meet in Lahore, Pakistan; marry; immigrate to the United States
1972 I am born on Staten Island
1976 We move to Wisconsin
1979 Iran hostage crisis; Mother’s first bout with cancer (with recurrences in ’86, ’99, and 2010)
1982 Father’s first attempt at private practice
1991 Father’s private practice folds; he declares bankruptcy, returns to academic medicine
1993 Father first meets Donald Trump
1994 Dinner with Aunt Asma; reading Rushdie
1997 Father’s final encounter with Trump
1998 Latif Awan killed in Pakistan
2001 The attacks of September 11
2008 Family trip to Abbottabad, Pakistan
2009 Car breaks down in Scranton
2011 Bin Laden killed
2012 First opening of a play in New York City; meet Riaz Rind; Christine Langford and her unborn child die
2013 Awarded Pulitzer Prize for Drama
2014 Join the board of the Riaz Rind Foundation; meet Asha
2015 Diagnosed with syphilis; Mother dies; Trump declares his candidacy
2016 Trump elected
2017 Sell my shares in Timur Capital; Merchant of Debt opens in Chicago; Father tried for malpractice
2018 I begin to write these pages
On the Anniversary of Trump’s First Year in Office
My father first met Donald Trump in the early ’90s, when they were both in their midforties—my father the elder by a year—and as each was coming out from under virtual financial ruin. Trump’s unruly penchant for debt and his troubles with borrowed money were widely reported in the business pages of the time: by 1990, his namesake organization was collapsing under the burden of the loans he’d taken out to keep his casinos running, the Plaza Hotel open, and his airline’s jets aloft. The money had come at a price. He’d been forced to guarantee a portion of it, leaving him personally liable for more than eight hundred million dollars. In the summer of that year, a long Vanity Fair profile painted an alarming portrait not only of the man’s finances but also of his mental state. Separated from his wife, he’d decamped from the family triplex for a small apartment on a lower floor of Trump Tower. He was spending hours a day lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. He wouldn’t leave the building, not for meetings, not for meals—subsisting on a diet of burgers and fries delivered from a local deli. Like his debt load, Trump’s waistline ballooned, his hair grew long, curling at the ends, ungovernable. And it wasn’t just his appearance. He’d gone uncharacteristically quiet. Ivana confided to friends she was worried. She’d never seen him like this, and she wasn’t sure he was going to pull through.
My father, like Trump, binged on debt in the ’80s and ended the decade uncertain about his financial future. A doctor, he’d transitioned into private practice from a career in academic cardiology just as the hostage crisis began. By the time Reagan was in office, he’d started to mint money, as he liked to put it. (The playful attack of his Punjabi lilt always made it sound to me more like he was describing the flavor of all that new cash rather than the activity of making it.) In 1983, with more money than he knew what to do with, Father took a weekend seminar in real estate investment at the Radisson hotel in West Allis, Wisconsin. By Sunday night, he’d put in an offer on his first property, a listing one of the instructors had “shared” with the participants on a lunch break—a gas station in Baraboo just blocks from the site where the Ringling brothers started their circus. Just what it was he needed with a gas station was the perfectly reasonable question my mother flatly posed when he announced the news to us later that week. To celebrate, he’d mixed a pitcher of Rooh Afza lassi—the rose-flavored squash beverage was my mother’s favorite. He shrugged in response to her question and held out a glass for her to take. She was in no mood for lassi.
“What do you know about gas stations?” she asked, irritated.
“I don’t need to know the day-to-day. The business is solid. Good cash flow.”
“It’s making money, Fatima.”
“If it’s making so much money, why did they need to sell? Hmm?”
“People have their reasons.”
“What reasons? Sounds like you have no idea what you’re talking about. Were you drinking?”
“No, I wasn’t drinking. Do you want the lassi or not?” She shook her head, curtly. He tended the glass to me; I didn’t want it, either; I hated the stuff. “I don’t expect you to understand. I don’t expect you to support me. But in ten years, you’ll look back on this, you both will, and you’ll see that I made a great investment.”
I wasn’t sure what I had to do with it.
“Investment?” she repeated. “Is that like when you buy a new pair of sunglasses every time you go to the store?”
“I’m always losing them.”
“I can show you fifteen right now.”
“Not the ones I like.”
“What a pity for you,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm as she headed for the hallway.
“You’ll see!” Father cried out after her. “You’ll see!”
What we were to see were the subsequent “investments” in a strip mall in Janesville; another in Skokie, Illinois; a campground outside Wausau; and a trout farm near Fond du Lac. If you don’t see the logic in the portfolio of holdings, well, you’re not the only one. It turned out the haphazard purchases were all the advice of the seminar instructor, Chet, who’d sold him the first. All were financed with debt, each property operating as some form of collateral for the other in some bizarre configuration of shell corporations Chet came up with—for which he would be indicted in the aftermath of the S&L crisis. My father was lucky to dodge the legal bullet. Oh, and yes, we did have our obligatory copy of Trump’s The Art of the Deal on the shelf in the living room—but that wouldn’t be for a few years yet.
My father has always been something of a conundrum to me, an imam’s son whose only sacred names—Harlan, Far Niente, Opus One—were those of the big California Cabernets he adored; who worshipped Diana Ross and Sylvester Stallone and who preferred the poker he learned here to the rung he left behind in Pakistan; a man of unpredictable appetites and impulses, inclined to tip the full amount of the bill (and sometimes then some); an unrepentant admirer of American pluck who never stopped chiding me for my adolescent lack of same: If he’d had my good fortune to be born here?! Not only would he never have become a doctor! He also might actually have been happy! It’s true I can’t seem to recall him ever looking as content as he did for those few middle Reagan years when—on the promise of the system’s endlessly easy money—he awoke each morning to find in the mirror the reflection of a self-made businessman. It would prove a short-lived joy. The market crash in ’87 initiated a cascade of unfortunate “credit events” that, by the early ’90s, reduced his net worth to less than nothing. I’d just started my second year of college when he called to tell me he was selling his practice to avoid bankruptcy and that I would have to leave school that semester unless I could secure a student loan. (I did.)
If not fully reformed by the reversal of fortune, Father was certainly chastened for a time. He returned to his position as a professor of clinical cardiology at the university and threw himself back into a career of research, for which, despite his misgivings, he was clearly suited. Indeed, after just three years back in the academy, he found himself once again at the top of his field and on an awards dais, handed a medal for his recent studies of a little-known disorder known as Brugada syndrome. It was the second time he’d won the American College of Cardiology’s Investigator of the Year award, making him only the third physician in its history—and likely the most insolvent—ever to be honored twice in a career.
It was Father’s work on Brugada, a rare and often fatal arrhythmia, that led to his first meeting Donald Trump.
* * *
In 1993, Trump’s troubles were still legion. He’d gone to his siblings to ask if he could borrow money from the family trust to pay bills. (He would go back for more a year later.) He was forced to give up his yacht, the airline, and his stake in the Plaza Hotel. The bankers overseeing the restructuring of his holdings put him on a strict monthly allowance. And in the press, there was no relief: his mistress, Marla Maples, was newly pregnant, and his press-canny, now finally ex-wife was destroying him in the court of public opinion.
In short, he was going through a lot. So it wasn’t entirely surprising to either Trump or his doctors when he started to experience heart palpitations. As Trump described it to my father, he first felt the alarming sensation while golfing on an unusually hot morning in Palm Beach; he felt something strange in his chest, like a pounding on a distant drum; then he felt faint. When he sat down in the golf cart to rest, the pounding neared, grew more intense: “It felt like my heart was being slammed around inside that big empty drum.”1
A few days after the palpitations on the golf course, Trump was having dinner at the Breakers, then the premier luxury resort in Palm Beach. He hated the Breakers—or so Father recalls him explaining at some length during their first patient exam—but had to go to the dinner there because he was meeting a member of the city council who, Trump thought, knowing how much he hated the Breakers, had probably scheduled dinner there on purpose. Trump’s application to turn Mar-a-Lago into a private club was still pending, and he needed all the support on the Palm Beach city council that he could get. So the Breakers it was, even though he said the food was gross and overpriced. “Just wait ’til I get my club running. We’re going to bury the Breakers.” He’d ordered a bone-in rib eye—“Always well done, Doc. Because I don’t know the kitchen, and I don’t know what filth they’ve got back there. Who’s cooking what. Touching the food. The only way to be safe—steak, fish, whatever. Well done. Unless it’s my kitchen, and we’re gonna have a great restaurant at Mar-a-Lago, the greatest, but see…I’ll still have it well done there, too. I just think it’s better that way”—and just as the food came to the table, Trump said he started to feel faint. He got up and excused himself to go to the restroom, where he couldn’t believe how pale he looked. Once again, he felt that sensation he’d felt on the golf course, his heart rattling around as if inside the skin of an empty drum. He knew something was wrong. He knew he needed to get home.
It was a short distance to Mar-a-Lago—just three miles—but as soon as the car pulled out of the parking lot, he started to feel worse. Along Ocean Boulevard, he asked his driver to stop the car, and that was it. The next thing he remembered was lying on the sidewalk, hearing the waves. His driver would later tell him he collapsed facedown into the rear footwell. The driver would get out and turn him over, finding Trump’s eyes rolled back into his head. He couldn’t find a pulse on Trump’s wrist or neck, couldn’t hear a beating in his chest. The driver shook him hard, and then, just as abruptly as he’d fainted, Trump came back to. Color rushed into his face; the veins in his forehead started to pulse. Dazed, he got out of the car and lay down on the sidewalk along the beach. Listening to the steady rhythm of waves washing onto the shore, he would later tell my father, seemed to make the strange beating in his heart subside.
Doctors’ examinations over the following days and weeks pointed to a cardiac event, but Trump’s heart muscle itself was healthy, his coronary arteries clear of any occlusion. A further battery of tests resulted in a pile of EKG strips that showed an occasional pattern the specialist in Palm Beach had never seen before. It had the vague contour of a shark fin. Even as late as 1993, most cardiologists didn’t know that this is what Brugada syndrome looks like.
The strips were sent to Mount Sinai Hospital, in New York, where a cardiologist on staff referred them to my father, in Milwaukee. Considered the leading specialist in Brugada in the States, second in the world only to the Brugada brothers, who had identified the syndrome at their labs in Belgium, Father was accustomed to EKG strips and patients pouring into his lab from across the country—and, later, from the Far East. Indeed, Trump wasn’t even the first person of some fame whose case had come his way. The year prior, Father was flown first class to Brunei, where he examined the sultan himself in a lab that had been outfitted to Father’s specs by the time he’d touched down in Bandar Seri Begawan. Though Trump was no monarch—at least not yet—he wasn’t about to get on a plane for Milwaukee, either. So Father was flown—again, first class—to Newark, where Trump’s helicopter was waiting for him. He flew into a heliport along the Hudson River, where a car picked him up and drove him to Mount Sinai. Ushered into one of the exam rooms, where the equipment was set up for a battery of tests—the usual twelve-lead EKG, followed by a stress test, and if neither induced the Brugada arrhythmia, there was an option to inject an alkaloid through an intravenous line—Father waited for his patient to arrive. But Trump never showed.
That night, in the room at the Plaza Hotel that had been arranged for him, Father’s bedside phone rang just as he was falling asleep. It was Donald himself. What follows is my approximation of their conversation, shaped by Father’s recollection of, above all, the man’s solicitousness:
“No one seems to know how to say it, Doctor.”
“Nothing new there.”
“How do you say it?”
“So Ak, like in Oc-topus.”
“But is that how you say it? Where you’re from?—Where are you from?”
“And we pronounce the name differently there.”
“I’m talented. I can say it right.”
“So we say Akhtar.” Father reverted to the native kh
- "Tour de force . . . a poetic confession of the agony of trying to articulate a nuanced critique of faith and politics in an age of shrieking partisanship."—Ron Charles, Washington Post
- "An immigrant saga unlike any other . . . singular in its richness, inventiveness, and braininess and the fiery candor with which Akhtar chars nearly every sentence. . . . For me, this is the book of the year."—Junot Diaz, O Magazine
- "A beautiful novel about an American son and his immigrant father that has echoes of The Great Gatsby and that circles, with pointed intellect, the possibilities and limitations of American life.... Homeland Elegies is a very American novel. It’s a lover’s quarrel with this country, and . . . it has candor and seriousness to burn."—Dwight Garner, New York Times
- "Dazzling . . . a deeply personal examination of the American dream."—Entertainment Weekly
- "[A] moving and confrontational novel . . . Homeland Elegies deals in ambiguities that were beyond the pale of public discourse in the years after 9/11. . . . He has an unerring sense for the sore spots, the bitter truths that have emerged from this history."—Hari Kunzru, New York Times Book Review
- "Masterful.... A symphony about America.... [Akhtar's] intellectual explorations of identity and self-presentation are coupled with deep emotional urgency.... With its insight and honesty, Homeland Elegies deserves to be read widely."—USA Today
- "Incisive and masterful."—Rafia Zakaria, Boston Globe
- "Gripping ... [a] fine and deeply moving piece of writing."—Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
- "Akhtar deftly weaves politics, family, friendship, capitalism, work and the eternal existential crisis of being American into a tapestry of form that includes essay, lyric passages and dialogue in its pattern (which, like America, is somewhat chaotic). . . . 'Ever the artist,' Akhtar writes, 'I trusted the mess.' And thank goodness he did."—Sarah Neilson, San Francisco Chronicle
- "Scintillating ... Akhtar is an intrepid narrator."—Anjali Enjeti, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
- "Outstanding.... [A] courageous and timely novel, deftly interweaving fact and fiction, memoir and history.... It’s hard to convey the breadth and brilliance of this work."—The Guardian
- "Monumental . . . a globe-trotting tragicomedy."—Elle.com
- "A family drama that spans the globe and asks big, unsettling questions about identity, patriotism, and the quest to belong."—Town & Country
- "This tragicomedy is a revelation."—Publishers Weekly
- "A searing work . . . profound and provocative."—Kirkus Reviews
- “Achingly intimate . . . The personal is political in this beautiful, intense elegy for an America that often goes awry while still offering hope.”—Library Journal
- “Akhtar confronts issues of race, money, family, politics, and sexuality in a bold, memoiristic tale . . . with an array of fascinating characters with different insights into the American character”—Booklist
- "An unflinchingly honest self-portrait by a brilliant Muslim-American writer, and, beyond that, an unsparing examination of both sides of that fraught hyphenated reality. Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable."—Salman Rushdie, author of Quichotte
- "An urgent, intimate hybrid of memoir and fiction, Homeland Elegies lays bare the broken heart of our American dream turned reality TV nightmare. The book…brilliantly captures how we got to this exact moment in time and at what cost. Stunning."—A. M. Homes, author of This Book Will Save Your Life and Days of Awe
- "At the core of this flashing, kinetic coil of a story -- part 1001 Nights, part Reality TV -- is a passionate, wrenching portrayal of Americans exiled into 'otherness'."—Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach and A Visit From the Goon Squad
- "With Homeland Elegies, Ayad Akhtar has found the perfect hybrid form for his exuberant, insightful, and wickedly entertaining epic about Muslim immigrants and their American-born children. A deeply moving father-and-son story unfolds against tumultuous current events in a book that anyone wanting to know how we as a nation got where we are today -- and into what dark wood we might be heading tomorrow -- should read."—Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend
- "Homeland Elegies is the astonishing work of an absolutely brilliant writer. With exquisite prose and lacerating honesty, Ayad Akhtar reveals the intersections of art, finance, race, religion, academia, and empire, and in the process, shows us a troubled reflection of our country in the twenty-first century."—Phil Klay, author of Redeployment
- "A triumph. Akhtar rages, he sings, he indicts, he falls in love, he sorrows, he dreams, he mourns, he transcribes!-and finally, he transmutes injustice into the sublimest art."—Joshua Ferris, author of The Dinner Party
- "Ayad Akhtar offers up his heart and life with an honesty that astonishes. Never have I experienced such a reading thrill. I put down this novel trembling at the courage it took to write it, and determined to be a better American for having read it."—Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette
- "Homeland Elegies is urgent, lacerating writing of the first order from one of our finest playwrights. A sensation of a book."—Suketu Mehta, author of This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto
- "A novel as brave as it is brilliant, as exciting as it is disturbing. This book captures our American moment with a power and depth that left me thrilled and shaken. One of our greatest playwrights establishes himself as a great novelist."—Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater
- "Homeland Elegies is a beautifully written and unflinching meditation on the American “Dream,” in a moment of Islamophobia, economic crisis, and the unmasking of national rot the Trump years have given us. Playful, daring, unapologetically smart, rejecting the constricting frames within which Muslim-American writing and art are often presented, the novel exposes debt peonage and racial othering as fundaments of our national condition with ruthless clarity."—Sadia Abbas, author of At Freedom's Limit and The Empty Room
"This book has the drama and fury and fizz of Real Housewives crossed with the timeless lament of The Great Gatsby. I read it in a fever, swept up in the kind of rapture you fall into when your most audacious friend kicks off on a hilarious, outrageous, but deeply sincere rant."
—Torrey Peters, The Guardian
- On Sale
- Sep 15, 2020
- Page Count
- 368 pages
- Little, Brown and Company