Homeland Elegies: A Novel (Paperback)

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Homeland Elegies: A Novel By Ayad Akhtar Cover Image

Homeland Elegies: A Novel (Paperback)

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September 2020 Indie Next List


“A masterful blend of memoir and fiction, this is an unforgettable journey through the lives of a Muslim family finding their place in a post-9/11 America. A searing navigation of the loves we try to reconcile — familial, religious, societal — and the definition of home. Written with wisdom, wit, and unsparing honesty, this an important book that you will continue to contemplate for a very long time. Both intimate and epic, this is a must-read.”
— Pam Stirling, East Bay Booksellers, Oakland, CA

Staff Reviews


In these times of great division in our country, along comes a book that sets you back on your heels and forces you to look inward; forces one to consider what it feels like to be “other.” Homeland Elegies is an important book… but only if you are willing to listen, consider, and feel for your fellow man.
Considered a novel, the main character has the same name as the author, and yet, parts of the book appear to be fiction…an interesting format. It’s up to you,
the reader, to sort it out.
The protagonist, Akhtar, is born in the United States to a Muslim Pakistani family. His father is a cardiologist and wants so badly to be considered American; to “belong." The mother is devastatingly homesick for her homeland. Their relationship is complicated. After 9/11 the troubles begin, as racist and anti-Muslim attitudes grow and infect the livelihood and lifestyle of the whole family. In desperation, Aktar takes a crucifix pendant and wears it for several months in hopes of proving his patriotism. But the dream of national belonging eludes them all.
Akhtar, the author and Pulitzer Prize winning playright, exams the contradictions in American policy, the American desire to “make money,” to be
fair, and to be an example of Democracy. If the reader is willing to put aside opinions and consider different points of view-that we are not always right, nor are we always wrong-then this book becomes a worthwhile read. Considered by The New York Times as one of the ten best books of 2020, it’s a book very hard to put down, let alone forget!
— Karen L.

This "profound and provocative" work by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced and American Dervish followsan immigrant father and his son as they search for belonging—in post-Trump America, and with each other (Kirkus Reviews).

"Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable." —Salman Rushdie

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.

​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.

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2020

Finalist for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

A Best Book of 2020 * Washington Post * O Magazine * New York Times Book Review * Publishers Weekly

Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright. His work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Akhtar is the author of Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown & Co.), which The Washington Post called “a tour de force” and The New York Times called “a beautiful novel…that had echoes of The Great Gatsby and that circles, with pointed intellect, the possibilities and limitations of American life.” His first novel, American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.), was published in over 20 languages. As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations). 

Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwrighting Award, the Nestroy Award, the Erwin Piscator Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. Additionally, Ayad is a Board Trustee at New York Theatre Workshop, and PEN America, where he serves as President. In 2021, Akhtar was named the New York State Author, succeeding Colson Whitehead, by the New York State Writers Institute.


Product Details ISBN: 9780316496414
ISBN-10: 0316496413
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: May 25th, 2021
Pages: 368
Language: English
"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

"An urgent, intimate hybrid of memoir and fiction, Homeland Elegies thrusts us into the heart of a father-son relationship and, in the process-improbably-does nothing short of laying bare the broken heart of our American dream turned reality TV nightmare. The book's dissection of the deeply human desire to aspire and dream, and its illumination of the quest for success, 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 and Then We Came to the End

"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 and Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

"A beautifully rendered account of the struggle to belong in America today, Homeland Elegies takes you into the very heart of hyphenated identity. Erudite and vivid, its pages burst with vitality and intelligence."—Peter Godwin, author of When a Crocodile Eats the Sun and The Fear