In the prologue to this moving, insightful novel about religion and family, immigration and assimilation, narrator Hayat Shah recalls a watershed moment: at a college basketball game, he and two friends order two bratwurst and a beef dog from a vendor. When they're given three brats, Hayat decides he has no reason not to eat one; after, he feels transformed.
How that bratwurst sums up Hayat's journey from his Pakistani, nominally Muslim home in a Milwaukee suburb; discovering true faith as opposed to formulaic faith; and learning about hate and sacrifice--all are limned beautifully and powerfully by Ayad Akhtar as he tells Hayat's story. And Hayat's story is entwined with Mina's--his mother's best friend--who teaches Hayat to listen to the still, small voice within that can be heard only by finding the silence at the end of a breath, as she teaches him to love the Koran.
Akhtar's explorations into the tension between the universal truths of a religion and literal readings of its documents play out effectively. A master of scene and dialogue, and evocative prose, he's created a compelling and visceral novel. --Marilyn Dahl, book review editor, Shelf Awareness