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Appalachian’s Summer Reading Author and 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winner Ayad Akhtar Comes to Boone Sept. 10-11

By Rebecca Mullins

Sept. 4, 2013. On Sept. 10, Ayad Akhtar, author of Appalachian’s 2013 Summer Reading American Dervish, is coming to Boone.  On Sept. 10-11 Akhtar will be speaking at a number of events in the area including Appalachian State University’s Convocation, a panel discussion, a Visiting Writer’s Series event and at the Watauga County Library. All events are free to attend and open to the public so come meet this 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winner, author, playwright and screenwriter.

  • At 10:00 a.m. on Sept. 10, Convocation will begin at the Holmes Convocation Centre at ASU where Akhtar will be the guest speaker.
  • At 2:00 p.m. Akhtar will participate in a panel discussion in the Blue Ridge Ballroom in Plemmon’s Student Union.
  • At 7:30 p.m. Akhtar will open this year’s visiting writer’s series by reading from his book, “American Dervish.”
  • At 11: 45 a.m. on Sept. 11, Akhtar will give a question and answer session and book signing at Watauga County Library. 
Photo by Nina Subin
Photo by Nina Subin

Ayad Akhtar’s book “American Dervish” follows the story of young Hayat Shah in 1980’s America. The book highlights how Muslim American immigrants lived before 9/11. It is as much a look into immigrant life as it is a coming of age novel.

Akhtar’s childhood experiences as an American born second generation Pakistani in Milwaukee, Wis. culminated in the formation of this novel. Its powerful drive, distinctive circumstances, and religious viewpoint brings the reader into a culture most of us have never known. 

“It’s a challenging book,” said Dr. Colin Ramsey, the summer reading Program Director.

Ramsey went on to relate how excited he is to have Ayad Akhtar speak at Appalachian. His wish for the summer reading program is that the book will generate enough interest to become a campus wide read, instead of only for freshman. This book certainly has the chance to do so. 

In the evening, Ayad Akhtar will start off this fall’s Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series. He is the first of four authors that will visit the Appalachian campus this semester. 

Following his day at Appalachian State, Akhtar will be giving a question and answer session along with a book signing at Watauga County Library. “American Dervish” was chosen as this years community read. The library book club will meet in the library on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the novel.

Monica Cruso, a Watauga County Librarian, anticipates a large turnout at the library for Akhtar’s visit this Wednesday. Cruso and a colleague are going on WATA radio out of Boone tomorrow at 8:40 a.m. to promote the visit.

For more information on Ayard Akhtar click here.

AmericanDervishHayat Shah is a young American in love for the first time. His life has previously been distinguished only by his Pakistani heritage and the arguments between his parents. But then Mina arrives – and everything changes.

Mina is Hayat’s mother’s oldest friend from Pakistan. She is independent, beautiful, intelligent, and deeply spiritual, and she appears on the Shahs’ doorstep in the wake of a disastrous divorce. Even Hayat’s skeptical father can’t deny the happiness that Mina brings to the family.

Hayat begins to study the Quran under her tutelage, enthralled by the beauty of the text and convinced he’s found his life’s pursuit.

But when Mina begins dating a Jewish man, Hayat is confused by his feelings of betrayal. His growing passions – both romantic and spiritual – compel him to act, with devastating consequences for those he loves most. 

-American Dervish book description