Ayad Akhtar biography

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Ayad Akhtar

Ayad Akhtar

How to pronounce Ayad Akhtar: AY-add AHK-tar

Ayad Akhtar Biography

Ayad Akhtar is an American-born, first generation Pakistani-American from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He holds degrees in Theater from Brown University and in Directing from the Graduate Film Program at Columbia University, where he won multiple awards for his work. He is the author of numerous screenplays and was star and co-writer of The War Within, which premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay and an International Press Academy Satellite Award for Best Picture - Drama. American Dervish is his first novel.

About This Biography
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Interview

Ayad Akhtar answers questions about American Dervish and explains how growing up as a Muslim in America influenced his writing.

Why did you choose to set American Dervish in 1980s Wisconsin?
Wallace Stevens writes beautifully of the process of creation as the fashioning of images with wood out of one's own forests, and stone out of one's own fields. I grew up in Wisconsin and wanted very much to draw on the textures of my childhood. Though the story is fiction, I wanted to imbue it with a sense of lived reality, a register of authenticity I could achieve only by drawing on my own youth. Also, I wanted to depict a time before the world had politicized being Muslim. Setting the novel in the 1980s allowed me to draw a picture of a community where much of the conflict engulfing the world today was already beginning to take shape.

How has your experience of growing up as Muslim-American affected your work?
Before writing American Dervish, I worked as a screenwriter and playwright, and most of my work has dealt with Muslim-American identity, the unique challenges of identifying oneself (or being identified by others) primarily by a religious faith and, in Islam's case, by a faith that has often seen itself (and been ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Ayad Akhtar at BookBrowse
American Dervish jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Ayad Akhtar but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Roshi Fernando

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    Roshi Fernando grew up in southeast London and received her Ph.D. in creative writing from Swansea University. She was a finalist for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award in 2011. She lives in the Cotswolds, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    American Dervish

    Try:
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  • Khaled Hosseini

    Khaled Hosseini

    Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. His father was a diplomat with the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and History at a large high school in Kabul. In 1970, the Foreign Ministry ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    American Dervish

    Try:
    The Kite Runner
    by Khaled Hosseini

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