Ayad Akhtar with Maria Semple
One of the year’s most anticipated novels - even before this year starting turning into what has become this year - prize-winning novelist and playwright Ayad Akhtar’s powerful Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown) gets virtually welcomed to readers here, with much-loved Seattle author Maria Semple joining in conversation. Novels don’t always have both timelessness and timely urgency to them; Homeland Elegies most certainly does.
“Akhtar reckons with the promises and deceptions of the American dream in this wrenching work of autofiction. The narrator, Ayad, was, like the author, born in Staten Island to Pakistani immigrant parents and raised in Wisconsin, and wrote a Pulitzer-winning play … Ayad traces his often complicated personal, philosophical, and political stance toward an America in which he sees himself as ‘other.’ In the process, Ayad responds to criticism of his past writings for rationalizing violence committed by Muslims; critiques capitalism while acknowledging how it benefits him; and confronts his own internalized conflation of race and sex. Most often, these issues are viewed through the lens of family, especially his parents ... Akhtar’s work is a provocative and urgent examination of the political and economic conditions that shape personal identity, especially for immigrants and communities of color. With an audacious channeling of Philip Roth’s warts-and-all approach to the story of an American writer and his family, this tragicomedy is a revelation.” - Publishers Weekly.
Ayad Akhtar is the author of the novel, American Dervish, and of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced, as well as award-winning and -nominated plays such as Junk, The Who & The What, and The Invisible Hand. Maria Semple is author, most recently, of Where’d You Go Bernadette and Today Will Be Different. This should be something.
Co-presented with Tasveer.