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Both deliciously funny and deeply insightful, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN is a beguiling multi-layered memoir that has touched the hearts of readers all over the world. At the age of one, Imran Ahmad moved from Pakistan to London, growing up torn between his Islamic identity and his desire to embrace the West. Join Imran in his lifelong struggle against corruption and injustice, Both deliciously funny and deeply insightful, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN is a beguiling multi-layered memoir that has touched the hearts of readers all over the world. At the age of one, Imran Ahmad moved from Pakistan to London, growing up torn between his Islamic identity and his desire to embrace the West. Join Imran in his lifelong struggle against corruption and injustice, and as he grapples with some of Life's most profound questions. What does God do exactly? Do you automatically go to Hell for following the wrong religion? How do you persuade a beautiful woman to become your girlfriend (and would driving a Jaguar XJS help?) Can you maintain a James Bond persona without the vodka, cigarettes and women - even whilst your parents are trying to arrange your marriage? Imran's unimagined journey makes thoughtful, compelling, and downright delightful reading. With a unique style and unflinching honesty, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN addresses serious issues in an extraordinarily light way, and will leave readers both thinking deeply and laughing out loud.


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Both deliciously funny and deeply insightful, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN is a beguiling multi-layered memoir that has touched the hearts of readers all over the world. At the age of one, Imran Ahmad moved from Pakistan to London, growing up torn between his Islamic identity and his desire to embrace the West. Join Imran in his lifelong struggle against corruption and injustice, Both deliciously funny and deeply insightful, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN is a beguiling multi-layered memoir that has touched the hearts of readers all over the world. At the age of one, Imran Ahmad moved from Pakistan to London, growing up torn between his Islamic identity and his desire to embrace the West. Join Imran in his lifelong struggle against corruption and injustice, and as he grapples with some of Life's most profound questions. What does God do exactly? Do you automatically go to Hell for following the wrong religion? How do you persuade a beautiful woman to become your girlfriend (and would driving a Jaguar XJS help?) Can you maintain a James Bond persona without the vodka, cigarettes and women - even whilst your parents are trying to arrange your marriage? Imran's unimagined journey makes thoughtful, compelling, and downright delightful reading. With a unique style and unflinching honesty, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN addresses serious issues in an extraordinarily light way, and will leave readers both thinking deeply and laughing out loud.

30 review for The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Cline

    The Perfect Gentleman, A Muslim Boy Meets the West by Imran Ahmad (pp 333). This is one of the most interesting social commentaries in the guise of a memoir I’ve ever read. Much of it is written from a youthful perspective that effectively uses naïveté ignorance (used non-pejoratively) to shed light on physical difference, relationships (mostly imagined), discrimination, racism, classism, school, culture, family, and above all religion. As the author, a Pakistani transplant along with his family The Perfect Gentleman, A Muslim Boy Meets the West by Imran Ahmad (pp 333). This is one of the most interesting social commentaries in the guise of a memoir I’ve ever read. Much of it is written from a youthful perspective that effectively uses naïveté ignorance (used non-pejoratively) to shed light on physical difference, relationships (mostly imagined), discrimination, racism, classism, school, culture, family, and above all religion. As the author, a Pakistani transplant along with his family, living in England and later Scotland, moved through childhood and into adulthood (including more relationships—also mostly imagined), higher education, politics, cars, and work, he increasingly talked about religion. As he was ‘accosted’ by evangelical Christians in obnoxious and repeated attempts to pull him away from Islam (sometimes harshly), he openly explores the two religions, their similarities & dissimilarities, faith versus rationally based beliefs, the historical Jesus and Muhammad, his own temptations, religious practice, comparisons of theological precepts and their real world applications, and more. His observations about himself, his beliefs, his very real doubts, his fellow believers, all the while making honest comparisons with other religions (though mostly Christianity and its adherents) are fascinating. All of this very heavy material is explored within a mostly lightweight framework and it seamlessly flows in, out, and through more mundane and secular elements of everyday life. Refreshingly, Ahmad is effortlessly humorous, never breaking a sweat while revealing humor in everyday events and situations. Because his views on all aspects of life come from an angle literally foreign to most of us, his observations are delightfully askew and above all insightful. This is an amazingly easy read, yet is as thoughtful and provocative a book as I have read in recent memory.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rhett

    In the spirit of full disclosure, most of what follows actually started out as a comment on another reader's review. It only occurred to me after posting it, that it might serve as my own review of the book. I came by The Perfect Gentleman, not because of any particular interest or familiarity with Islam or the experience of Pakistani immigrants in the U.K., but because I own a Jaguar XJ-S, for the very same reasons that the young Imran Ahmad wants one in the book. It's a connection, I suppose, In the spirit of full disclosure, most of what follows actually started out as a comment on another reader's review. It only occurred to me after posting it, that it might serve as my own review of the book. I came by The Perfect Gentleman, not because of any particular interest or familiarity with Islam or the experience of Pakistani immigrants in the U.K., but because I own a Jaguar XJ-S, for the very same reasons that the young Imran Ahmad wants one in the book. It's a connection, I suppose, but seemingly a thin one. Or so I thought at first. Ultimately, I was so moved by The Perfect Gentleman that I've given out over ten copies of it, explaining to each recipient how and why I think this book touched me. I'm roughly the same age as the author, but I'm ethnically Anglo Saxon, with an ostensibly Christian background, and I grew up in an entirely different economic class, in a largely Anglo Saxon suburban California county in the U.S. In theory, I should have found the "fish out of water" memoir of a Pakistani Muslim boy growing up in the U.K. completely foreign. Instead, I found Imran Ahmad's frank, down to earth writing style, lightness of touch, and his ability to illustrate the universality of the human experience by exploring the cultural differences of those around him, so relatable and poignant that I came away feeling like I'd just met a new close friend, rather than a stranger living on the other side of the planet. Most of us tell stories about who we think we are, where we come from and how we came to be the modern version of ourselves; and most of us do it in a way that makes us look good and virtuous, often at the expense of others. The Perfect Gentleman is different in that there are effectively two, very different Imran Ahmads: Young Imran is the callow youth at the center of the narrative, and for whom the title "The Perfect Gentleman" would be aspirational, and the modern Imran, who is the voice of the narrative, and for whom the title "The Perfect Gentleman", is ironic. For this reader, the mystery at the heart of the story was: How does this youth, with his rigid and sometimes unsympathetic views, evolve into the kind of person who can reflect on his experiences with awareness and wisdom, fearlessly sharing his journey through the shortcomings of his youthful outlook on life in the service of a deeper inquiry? Taking the journey with him was rich, resonant and emotionally satisfying.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Waqar Saleem

    This book is written out like an autobiography of the author whose family migrated from Pakistan to England shortly after partition when he was still a small child. Its chapters are indexed by the year he is writing about and his age at the time, with rarely more than 6 pages devoted to each year. This makes the book a quick read. The book lists the author's observations of and reflections on the world around him. The style is candid and the author's personal sense of humour shines through as he This book is written out like an autobiography of the author whose family migrated from Pakistan to England shortly after partition when he was still a small child. Its chapters are indexed by the year he is writing about and his age at the time, with rarely more than 6 pages devoted to each year. This makes the book a quick read. The book lists the author's observations of and reflections on the world around him. The style is candid and the author's personal sense of humour shines through as he tackles living in the West while simultaneously harbouring Islamic values. While the author experiences many of the things of a typical teenage boy at the time, these is an added strain of the conflict between the different realities he finds himself in - the West around him and his traditional Islamic values, his being coloured in a society dominated by white people. Whereas writings on the above topics can make for heavy and serious reading, I commend the author for presenting a cheery, breezy look at them. He takes no sides and offers no judgments, but writes simply about how he himself along the course of a normal, daily life, comes to terms with these issues. The book is a good, light read that through its candid humor and frank, sometimes innocent and insightful, observations grips you from the start to the finish. I enjoyed it a lot!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Baljit

    Finished this in a day..... Absolutely refreshing! Imran writes candidly about his life as a Pakistani boy in London. From a room in a bedsit, to his parents own home, his entrance into a prestigious grammer school and his university days in Scotland. But thru his ups and downs he is plagued by religious questions and his discussions with various Christian evangelists fuel his doubts about Islam being the true path. Life is a journey as Imran discovers.... Hope this brilliant writer produces more Finished this in a day..... Absolutely refreshing! Imran writes candidly about his life as a Pakistani boy in London. From a room in a bedsit, to his parents own home, his entrance into a prestigious grammer school and his university days in Scotland. But thru his ups and downs he is plagued by religious questions and his discussions with various Christian evangelists fuel his doubts about Islam being the true path. Life is a journey as Imran discovers.... Hope this brilliant writer produces more fine work

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dolores

    I met the author a few weeks ago when he gave a talk about the book in Dallas. He is very funny and the passages he read were hilarious. This book is NOT ABOUT A TERRORIST. Far from it. It dispells the myths and propaganda. It is about a Muslim growing up in London and being comfortable in both worlds. It is about reaching out and understanding that we all have the same desires and dreams in life, no matter who we are.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dick

    Really interesting book about Christianity-Islam and how to find your way as immigrant in UK.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Puty

    Entertaining memoir from an interesting point of view: Moslem boy meets the West. It's really honest that it's funny , talking about a lot of things, from ridiculous students problem like body odour, to discrimination and inter-religion debate. I really like the way Imran pointing out quite a lot of stuff about Islam in a very rational & universal way, to the level I'm recommending it to both non-Moslem & Moslem. Also recommending it to Moslem parents who are raising kids in Western culture beca Entertaining memoir from an interesting point of view: Moslem boy meets the West. It's really honest that it's funny , talking about a lot of things, from ridiculous students problem like body odour, to discrimination and inter-religion debate. I really like the way Imran pointing out quite a lot of stuff about Islam in a very rational & universal way, to the level I'm recommending it to both non-Moslem & Moslem. Also recommending it to Moslem parents who are raising kids in Western culture because it will give you even the slightest idea what kind of struggle your kids are facing. Enjoyable!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. It's written in a very readable and deciptively simple style. In his own quiet, subtle way Imran Ahmad has addressed some big themes. The writing though is engaging, and honest, remarkably so, and Imran emerges as a decent young man, with all the bad habits, concerns and confusions of the young. Many of his trial and tribulations along the way are hilarious, and touching, and any of us who have had an unrequited love, or tried to bargin with God, will be able to I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. It's written in a very readable and deciptively simple style. In his own quiet, subtle way Imran Ahmad has addressed some big themes. The writing though is engaging, and honest, remarkably so, and Imran emerges as a decent young man, with all the bad habits, concerns and confusions of the young. Many of his trial and tribulations along the way are hilarious, and touching, and any of us who have had an unrequited love, or tried to bargin with God, will be able to sympathise with him.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Johara

    I don't usually do biographies, but this was by far the most enjoyable, light reading books I picked up from the biography section. I don't usually do biographies, but this was by far the most enjoyable, light reading books I picked up from the biography section.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sooraya Evans

    Bought my copy after meeting the author during the World Halal Forum (Kuala Lumpur) back in 2012. An overall charming and interesting read. But I didn't quite get the ending and epilogue. Bought my copy after meeting the author during the World Halal Forum (Kuala Lumpur) back in 2012. An overall charming and interesting read. But I didn't quite get the ending and epilogue.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Catullus2

    Hilarious!

  12. 4 out of 5

    TC

    This book proves that apparently it is possible to lead an undistinguished, unremarkable life, and yet be given the opportunity to publish your memoirs not only in your home country, but to have a special "American Translation" published to help break you to a whole new market. (This edition is clearly meant for the US, with helpful footnotes explaining some intricacies of UK schooling, and also replaces Britishisms for their American equivalents, like "subway" and "cell phone." I guess his publ This book proves that apparently it is possible to lead an undistinguished, unremarkable life, and yet be given the opportunity to publish your memoirs not only in your home country, but to have a special "American Translation" published to help break you to a whole new market. (This edition is clearly meant for the US, with helpful footnotes explaining some intricacies of UK schooling, and also replaces Britishisms for their American equivalents, like "subway" and "cell phone." I guess his publisher figured none of his readers would be fans of PBS.) As best as I can tell, Imran Ahmed lived a somewhat privileged life, enjoying the free grammar school and free college education that one once used to receive in the UK, all while dreaming of owning a Jaguar, imagining himself as better than he is, and wondering how to talk to girls. What's supposed to make it somewhat unique, I guess, is that he was an immigrant from Pakistan. He does occasionally deal with the ignorant racism of his neighbors and classmates. But it's not as if his house was firebombed, or he was beaten to near-death, or he was denied numerous opportunities because of his race. His subtle "outsider" status could easily be echoed by any nebbish schoolboy who got picked on. He spends a lot of time wondering about his faith as a Muslim, mostly because he seems to constantly attract American-style Evangelicals who scare him with a lot of talk of imminent eschatology. It challenges him to examine his own faith, and, unsurprisingly, he eventually comes to accept it as the one that's right for him. He does this not at a remarkable age, either, but around the same time most of us do--as a young adult. For the book takes us painstakingly through each year of his schooling, from grade school through post-graduate, with a few chapters thrown in about his first job, which was as a young management trainee for Unilever, one of the largest companies in the world. I feel his pain. In short, he seems to have had a better life than I've had. So I struggle to understand what I'm supposed to learn from this. This book is not without its charms. He captures well the kind of self-absorbed bubble that a young person (particularly a young male) goes through as he imagines himself the next James Bond. It's funny to read, because, we've all been there. So from that standpoint, it's an enjoyable light tomb of self-effacing, very relatable humor. And I might have been OK with that except that at the very end, it's clear that he expects me to believe these experiences somehow give him something important to say, and so we're treated to a rushed account of how he's all different now after twenty years of adulthood (jetting around the world working for international corporations), with deep insights he must share. The pièce de résistance is when he crows about how great it is to travel across the US as a guest speaker of the Unitarians, lecturing on Muslim-Christian relations. Great work if you can get it. Given that he seems to think his life gives him some moral platform in rarefied air on which to make such lofty observations, I can't help but feel irritated by the whole book. If he'd left it as a fun little read of humorous anecdotes about growing up, dealing with bullies, being overwhelmed by the opposite gender, falling in love with cars, slacking off in class then being perplexed at his lack of academic success, and struggling with his faith, it might have been a book we could call "charming." But the last chapter and epilogue makes it seem more like it was one long info-mercial for his new career in colloquium.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Neil Rendall

    A happy library book find; although a few years younger than me, I really identified with the way the author describes his primary and secondary school years and his home life - quite surprising since I'm white, and a product of the time of more overt casual and not-so-casual racism. He writes chronologically through his education years, providing insight into how he thought of God/Allah and confusions and insights, not as a theological exercise but simply as an incidental record alongside all t A happy library book find; although a few years younger than me, I really identified with the way the author describes his primary and secondary school years and his home life - quite surprising since I'm white, and a product of the time of more overt casual and not-so-casual racism. He writes chronologically through his education years, providing insight into how he thought of God/Allah and confusions and insights, not as a theological exercise but simply as an incidental record alongside all the other ups and downs going on through his life. At points in time he often presents his views and conclusions as simple and naive, although he's clearly neither of those. It is a clever device and reminds us how whatever we are now, we are built on what's gone before. I didn't go to University, so I didn't identify so much with his continuing academic life, but it was interesting as to how he developed into his adulthood. An enjoyable read, related with self-deprecating humour at times. The cover shown here has the sub-title, 'A Muslim Boy Meets the West'. There's something wrong with that; my version has the sub-title, 'Muhammad, Jesus and James Bond'. Much better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beejay

    I really need to revert to my old rule of allowing 10% of a book as the decider of whether or not to carry on reading. I can't believe I carried on for almost half of this book before adding it to the growing pile of books to donate to the local charity shop. I am left with a question, though: why do so many people like it? Does the author have a lot of friends, or ???? The writing style waivers between the tone of a 3 year old and that of an adult pretending to write like a youth but with a voi I really need to revert to my old rule of allowing 10% of a book as the decider of whether or not to carry on reading. I can't believe I carried on for almost half of this book before adding it to the growing pile of books to donate to the local charity shop. I am left with a question, though: why do so many people like it? Does the author have a lot of friends, or ???? The writing style waivers between the tone of a 3 year old and that of an adult pretending to write like a youth but with a voice that is totally unconvincing. Unfortunately, both voices are totally unconvincing, and totally lacking in charm because of that. If you are going to write a book about your childhood, accept that you're writing it as an adult and don't use almost-baby talk in some places and adult conversation in others. It's a real skill, but not one that this author has mastered. Urgh, too much time wasted on this one.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I loved this book. I accidentally left the library's copy of the book at school and was so devastated that I paid $12 to download it onto my Nook so I could finish. This coming from someone who hasn't paid for a book in 2+ years. The book is funny, honest, and discusses topics like racism and religion in ways that encourage the participation and critical thinking of the reader. For my ESL students, the beginning chapters are short enough to be manageable in one sitting. The book will also appeal I loved this book. I accidentally left the library's copy of the book at school and was so devastated that I paid $12 to download it onto my Nook so I could finish. This coming from someone who hasn't paid for a book in 2+ years. The book is funny, honest, and discusses topics like racism and religion in ways that encourage the participation and critical thinking of the reader. For my ESL students, the beginning chapters are short enough to be manageable in one sitting. The book will also appeal to more reluctant readers and students, especially because the author himself admits to going through stages of academic reluctance himself. I definitely plan to recommend this book to students for summer reading and use excerpts in class next year.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    On one level this is an endearing coming of age story told by a person who is a Pakistani Muslim living in Great Britain. On another level it is an apologetic for moderate Islam which ends up evolving into a warm and fuzzy universalism. It was eye-opening to observe Ahmad's faith journey as he grappled with a religious culture clash. His story is told against the framework of selected key historical events, helping to flesh out his decisions in a known time frame. Although I enjoyed many aspects On one level this is an endearing coming of age story told by a person who is a Pakistani Muslim living in Great Britain. On another level it is an apologetic for moderate Islam which ends up evolving into a warm and fuzzy universalism. It was eye-opening to observe Ahmad's faith journey as he grappled with a religious culture clash. His story is told against the framework of selected key historical events, helping to flesh out his decisions in a known time frame. Although I enjoyed many aspects of his intellectual honesty and found myself truly enjoying his wit and humor, as a Christian I have disagreements with some of his starting assumptions and resulting conclusions.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I often wonder about the sort of people who feel driven to write autobiographies. Undoubtedly some are just self-indulgent show-offs, others are driven by the opportunity to make a lot of money before their fifteen minutes of fame are past and some feel the need to record the 'truth' behind some historically important things that happened in their lives. Some achieve greatness, some hang out with the rich and famous and others get away with recounting the details of a fairly ordinary life by wri I often wonder about the sort of people who feel driven to write autobiographies. Undoubtedly some are just self-indulgent show-offs, others are driven by the opportunity to make a lot of money before their fifteen minutes of fame are past and some feel the need to record the 'truth' behind some historically important things that happened in their lives. Some achieve greatness, some hang out with the rich and famous and others get away with recounting the details of a fairly ordinary life by writing it up in a really entertaining way. If you are a fairly ordinary person who hasn’t hung out with stars or politicians, hasn't been caught up in momentous events and hasn't slept with a premier league footballer, then you'd better hope you're either very funny or very interesting. If you haven't got an 'angle' you might want to think again about writing your story - or stick to vanity publishing and print a few copies for your grandchildren but don't bother with general distribution. Sadly – and I say it with a true sense of disappointment – Imran Ahmad is neither funny nor interesting enough to justify 280 pages on his life up to the age of 28 and I hope he’s not planning a sequel. I suspect in the flesh he's a rather lovely man, but lovely doesn't justify the hours I spent reading a book in which very little really happens and there aren't enough laughs to compensate for that lack of action. I've got a fascination bordering on obsession with all things relating to the Indian sub-continent. This extends to wanting to read not only about those countries but also about the immigrant experience of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis living in the UK or USA. I've maxed out on autobiographies of UK-born or bred writers of Pakistani, Indian or Bangladeshi origin but Unimagined is by far the least commendable of those on my shelf. Put simply, despite his charm, wit and excellent historical attention to detail, Imran Ahmad only held my attention up to the age of about 14 or 15. After that age, his moaning and beating himself up about the meaning of religion and his pursuit of a girl who just wasn't interested in him got as annoying and repetitive as his breakdowns in his Renault 5. Imran Ahmad's story is one of disappointment. He learned about disappointment early in his life when he was robbed of first place in the Karachi 'Bonnie Baby' contest by the child of one of the organisers, hence recognising that life really isn't 'fair' and that corruption runs deep - too handy lessons, indeed. When the British government of the early 1960s encouraged economic migration from the Commonwealth, his parents uprooted the family and moved to the UK in search of better prospects. Of course, they discovered in the process that the streets of London weren't paved with gold but that it didn't matter too much because a decent job at Heathrow Airport had plenty of fringe benefits. Despite a tough start in a dodgy sub-let bed-sit, this isn't a tale of poverty and underprivileged sacrifice. If you're looking for an Angela's Ashes style 'My s**t life' story, look elsewhere because there's no pretence to a life of poverty. Ahmad's family do well in their new country and are soon buying into all the trappings of the British middle class; a nice television, the first video player in the street and some 'keeping up with the Joneses' cars. He goes to a good school and gets along pretty well. Yes, there are incidents of childish racism and bullying, issues of religious confusion and mental torment over what life's all about, but I don't think any of that's particularly restricted to one particular religious group. He wants to do the 'right thing' by his family and become a doctor because nice Pakistani boys don't study the classics or social sciences but not everything goes quite to plan. We're taken through Imran's childhood, schooldays, student life and eventually on to his first employment. The problem is (and I hate to say this) that it's just not very interesting. His early years have far more funny incidents which perhaps suggests that his parents who may have told him these stories might just be a lot funnier than he is. I loved some of the early chapters and some of the little vignettes of everyday life. As an example, he has been taught to say 'No' if offered pork when visiting school friends' houses but it's not until he's eight years old that he finds out why. Turning down sausages at a friend's house, the friend’s mother explains to her son that it's because of his religion. Imran writes "Oh so that's why I don't eat pork! It's because of my religion". This is an autobiography of someone who just doesn’t seem to realise that he’s not as smart as he thinks he is. College life is a bit of a mess and all the mooning around over girls who weren’t interested, exploiting his status as a young man with an unreliable car and a generous heart who can drive girls around even if they are way out of his league rang true in a way I doubt the author intended. He reminded me of so many of the ‘losers’ from my student days who naively failed to spot their generosity being exploited by those in need of transport. One of the most disturbing things for me was realising that after university, Imran took a very similar career route as me, targeting Unilever as the company he wanted to join and leading a peripatetic lifestyle for his first few years in the job. Why disturbing? Because I realised he was really boring and guessed I was probably just as boring myself when caught up in that whole corporate trainee whirl. I made a mental 'note to self' saying "Don't ever write about your life".

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Imran's journey was one I truly enjoyed following him on. Much of his experience was uniquely Muslim, but I found some of the experiences with religion, tradition, and personal conviction universal. This book is a wonderful example of how we change as we grow! Imran's journey was one I truly enjoyed following him on. Much of his experience was uniquely Muslim, but I found some of the experiences with religion, tradition, and personal conviction universal. This book is a wonderful example of how we change as we grow!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia

    I had high hopes for this book. The beginning was charming and the prejudice that Imran experiences made me both sad and angry. His many thoughtful discussions of the differences between Islam and Christianity and his attempts to understand religion were interesting. Also his ability to see how the Arab world and its interpretation of Islam is off putting and frightening to many Westerners. The weakest part of the story was his history with women with his fixation on them and his inability to co I had high hopes for this book. The beginning was charming and the prejudice that Imran experiences made me both sad and angry. His many thoughtful discussions of the differences between Islam and Christianity and his attempts to understand religion were interesting. Also his ability to see how the Arab world and its interpretation of Islam is off putting and frightening to many Westerners. The weakest part of the story was his history with women with his fixation on them and his inability to convert any of that into love. Also, the book pretty much just comes to a halt, skipping twenty or more years of his life, when such great detail was given to the beginning.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I enjoyed reading Imran Ahmad's memoir of growing up Muslim in the UK. He is frank about his struggles to meet girls, understand religion, and find a reliable car. Along the way he encounters disappointments but learns from them. His talk of Scotland made me homesick. It was interesting reading a memoir written by a British male Muslim. Most of the Muslim memoirs I have read were written by women living in America. The only thing that bugged me was that he skipped over a huge chunk of his life. I enjoyed reading Imran Ahmad's memoir of growing up Muslim in the UK. He is frank about his struggles to meet girls, understand religion, and find a reliable car. Along the way he encounters disappointments but learns from them. His talk of Scotland made me homesick. It was interesting reading a memoir written by a British male Muslim. Most of the Muslim memoirs I have read were written by women living in America. The only thing that bugged me was that he skipped over a huge chunk of his life. He jumps from age 25 to age 37. So I feel like I missed out on something.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia Scutt

    I thought this book was great. Reading about Imran's life and experiences was very interesting. I was unsure about some parts of the book, but overall it was an enjoyable read. The ending of the book was not my favorite, but that's ok. I did find the afterword a little more interesting than some of the chapters. If Imran wrote a book that discusses everything in the afterword, I would read it as soon as I could. I thought this book was great. Reading about Imran's life and experiences was very interesting. I was unsure about some parts of the book, but overall it was an enjoyable read. The ending of the book was not my favorite, but that's ok. I did find the afterword a little more interesting than some of the chapters. If Imran wrote a book that discusses everything in the afterword, I would read it as soon as I could.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    I laughed aloud at this book, a lot. Imran Ahmad tells the story of his life, one year at a time, offering the reader hilarious vignettes that tell the story of growing up Muslim while living in England. His passion for cars (requited), women (unrequited), and interfaith theological discourse means that this is the kind of book I like to read. It's a good memoir. I laughed aloud at this book, a lot. Imran Ahmad tells the story of his life, one year at a time, offering the reader hilarious vignettes that tell the story of growing up Muslim while living in England. His passion for cars (requited), women (unrequited), and interfaith theological discourse means that this is the kind of book I like to read. It's a good memoir.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Darla Ebert

    What an interesting and riveting book. While being amused at the author's ruminations on culture, religion, and basic people-ey interactions, I was appalled and deeply saddened at the racist treatment Imran and his family faced in England. It was a relief to find that the author was able to retain his dignity and sense of humor. What an interesting and riveting book. While being amused at the author's ruminations on culture, religion, and basic people-ey interactions, I was appalled and deeply saddened at the racist treatment Imran and his family faced in England. It was a relief to find that the author was able to retain his dignity and sense of humor.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Brilliant! A great perspective on growing up in a country that is sometimes welcoming, sometimes not. A thoughtful look at the three monotheistic religions that share their roots, and how people use them for their own purposes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Charming and heart warming journey of self discovery. An engaging story telling of how he finds equilibrium between his county of origin and his western country of home. An enlightening read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This memoir is one of the finest I have read. It's funny, it's significant, thought-provoking, and a pleasure to read. This memoir is one of the finest I have read. It's funny, it's significant, thought-provoking, and a pleasure to read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shelly Marie

    Well written, insightful, and endearing book that discusses how a Pakistani immigrant/ child blends the two cultures of East and West. It is honest, sometimes sad, and often laugh out loud funny. Good and quick read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    okyrhoe

    I liked the organization of the memoir, titled by theme, and then the age & dates at the bottom of each page as a quick reference. Some remarks ---> 1. The young boy interprets the aggressive racist behavior as inevitable even though it greaty angers him personally. It's true that kids can be bullied and harrassed at school, regardless of their background, and part of growing up is learning to deal with it. The young Imran though witnesses his own mother at the edge of a nervous breakdown because I liked the organization of the memoir, titled by theme, and then the age & dates at the bottom of each page as a quick reference. Some remarks ---> 1. The young boy interprets the aggressive racist behavior as inevitable even though it greaty angers him personally. It's true that kids can be bullied and harrassed at school, regardless of their background, and part of growing up is learning to deal with it. The young Imran though witnesses his own mother at the edge of a nervous breakdown because of similar behaviour by the adult segment of society, and that’s what is/was the root of the problem. The facts about his mother are but briefly mentioned; I wanted to know more, especially whether Imran’s parents do eventually come to feel 'at home' after all these years in Britain. 2. I thought it was very poignant that the narrator's only reference for learning to be a adult male is via larger-than-life t.v. & film characters. It's funny to see how his infatuation with his English teacher never evolves; it is merely transposed onto another female (his fellow college student). And the exasperation at the girl choosing an 'immature' boyfriend rather than a proper guy is right on the mark! I spent some time thinking about this. It’s obvious to the reader that appropriate role models are lacking within the Pakistani familial & social environment, making it difficult for Imran to learn how to socialize 'normally' with the other sex. Or maybe it was simply that he was the eldest, and lacked an older brother that he could mimic and/or be advised by. Or even worse, that no socializing is meant to take place btwn young people of the opposite sex before marriage. It also seems as if within Pakistani culture the concept of 'teenage years' is absent; one apparently goes straight from childhood into adulthood, and there is no period where goofing off & experimenting with one's roles & identity is taken for granted. 3. The theological debate: I found it all rather funny, mainly because of its futility. FYI, I grew up in an exact reverse situation: as a European child & teen living in several Middle Eastern countries, so that many memories of my own that parallel the author's. I remember at age 4 or thereabouts, in Damascus, coming home one day after playing with the neighborhood kids, eager to show my mother I'd learned something important. I took two bath towels, laid one down, covered my head with the other, knelt and lowered my head to the ground, and like Imran, mumbled gibberish Arabic prayers. My mother had a fit, but I so much wanted to do the proper thing! Fortunately my father raised us agnostic, and I was spared the internal turmoil of trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of religious faith vis a vis credibility (or, as Imran calls it, 'the scientific aspect' of Islam). Despite my personal lack of interest in the subject, the matter of religious background remained a barrier, especially during my university years. The student population was a diverse one; however the underlying understanding was such that men & women of different faiths stuck to their own kind. Of course, being in a minority, it was only natural that I'd be attracted to the 'other' kind, for both practical and personal reasons... being a non-believer was more often than not a worse thing to be than a person of a different faith.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    The first part of tackling this book is to read through (well, I don’t know if you do but I do) pages and pages of positive book reviews on the book in hand. Writers and reviewers rave and crave around this book – sometimes this sets up the book for failure (in my own humble opinion) due to too much mega-gushing in advance. So often it paints a scenario of so much to live up to. Not so this time though. This book is a winner and a keeper of the attention span, that’s for sure. Within its pages, A The first part of tackling this book is to read through (well, I don’t know if you do but I do) pages and pages of positive book reviews on the book in hand. Writers and reviewers rave and crave around this book – sometimes this sets up the book for failure (in my own humble opinion) due to too much mega-gushing in advance. So often it paints a scenario of so much to live up to. Not so this time though. This book is a winner and a keeper of the attention span, that’s for sure. Within its pages, Ahmad comes to terms with being a dual-persona, British and Muslim, in a world of challenging circumstances and religious turmoil. Ahmad is not a preacher, nor is he an apologist but he makes his case for being a passionate follower of Islam and a thoughtful British global citizen. With written words that focus on a common sense approach, he charts his life journey along a British and international backdrop as he explores faith, identity, academic life, family, friends, personal success and failures. Obviously this is a real journey and an insightful glimpse at a very personal yet a common experience. I really enjoyed the narrative of the book as it is written with a slight and subtle self-deprecating humour. However, in between the lumps and bumps of life and Ahmad’s passion for cars, journeys and travel, the one thing I will take away from it is the real exploration and questioning of faith and faiths. In turn, each religion comes under a fair bit of scrutiny from Ahmad and he paints a convincing account of the peacefulness of Islam that is a world away from some of the current turmoil of its perception. Ahmad’s Islam is reflective, balanced, independent and gentle – totally at odds with its currently distorted media-manipulated mirror image holding court in the West. The mastery of this book lies for me in its simplicity and searing honesty as presented by the author. At the end of the read, I deduce that the author has made peace with the world - his world - for better or worse BUT for better. There is a message of hope and perseverance along with the messages of identity and ‘who am I’ questioning. I can only thank Ahmad for sharing his eventful journey so far. A ‘one off’ book and a gem at that.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sierra

    As I would guess is the case for most readers from "the West," I was drawn to this book because I don't know any Muslim people who are growing up, living and working here. And if I did, I wouldn't exactly be able to say, "Hey, what's that like? How's that been like from birth through now?" Enter Imran Ahmad. He's clearly been on quite a journey in his life - born to a Pakistani Muslim family (which I can only imagine), growing up in Britain (which I can only imagine), navigating the British scho As I would guess is the case for most readers from "the West," I was drawn to this book because I don't know any Muslim people who are growing up, living and working here. And if I did, I wouldn't exactly be able to say, "Hey, what's that like? How's that been like from birth through now?" Enter Imran Ahmad. He's clearly been on quite a journey in his life - born to a Pakistani Muslim family (which I can only imagine), growing up in Britain (which I can only imagine), navigating the British school system (which I can only imagine) and the corporate world (again, which I can only imagine). Oh yes, and also dealing with a number of fundamentalist Christians who are trying to convert him. My favorite parts of this book are his evolving thoughts on religion. He does a good job of writing from the consciousness of a young boy, a college student - going back and channeling how he thought at that moment. My problem with this book and why I wouldn't recommend it to friends it that, at the end of the day, he just doesn't go there. Right when he enters an arranged marriage - poof! Fast forward a decade, that didn't work out, got divorced, now he is experiencing the death of his pet bunny. The end. Okay, fine, here's a postscript in which my good friend tells me that I haven't gone there so I add this postscript that intimates that I have changed my thinking a lot, especially around the liberation of women (which is swell), his fundamentalist Christian buddy gave up his conviction in blood redemption and now they're both into compassion and he tours Unitarian Universalist churches to talk about this memoir...but still...the end. The book drags terribly in the middle, way too much detail in the college years, so this was a let down. Basically, if I ran into the author, I would be like, "Dude, the marriage! What happened with your arranged marriage?!?! Dish!!!!" Better yet, I would like to read the memoir by his ex-wife or his mother - what did they experience in their lives? I'm glad he's finally thrown off the mantle of parental obligation and is pursuing a career as a writer. I wish him the best on this, including an excellent editor for the next book (keep the PR people, they packaged it well).

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