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Native Believer: A Novel
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Akashic Books 2016
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Description
“[A] wickedly funny Philadelphia picaresque about a secular Muslim’s identity crisis in a country waging a never-ending war on terror.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
Ali Eteraz’s much-anticipated debut novel is the story of M., a supportive husband, adventureless dandy, lapsed believer, and second-generation immigrant who wants nothing more than to host parties and bring children into the world as full-fledged Americans. As M.’s life gradually fragments around him—a wife with a chronic illness, a best friend stricken with grief, a boss jeopardizing a respectable career—M. spins out into the pulsating underbelly of Philadelphia, where he encounters others grappling with fallout from the war on terror. Among the pornographers and converts to Islam, punks and wrestlers, M. confronts his existential degradation and the life of a second-class citizen.
 
Darkly comic, provocative, and insightful, Native Believer is a startling vision of the contemporary American experience and the human capacity to shape identity and belonging at all costs.
 
Native Believer stands as an important contribution to American literary culture: a book quite unlike any I’ve read in recent memory, which uses its characters to explore questions vital to our continuing national discourse around Islam.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“A page-turning contemporary fiction that addresses burning issues about the very essence of identity, and without question Ali Eteraz is a writer’s writer, one whose ear for the English language is just as acute as fellow naturalized Americans Vladimir Nabokov (born in Russia) or Viet Thanh Nguyen (Vietnam).” —Los Angeles Review of Books
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
04/11/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781617754593
ASIN:
B01EEQ8WZU
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Ali Eteraz. (2016). Native Believer: A Novel. Akashic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Ali Eteraz. 2016. Native Believer: A Novel. Akashic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Ali Eteraz, Native Believer: A Novel. Akashic Books, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Ali Eteraz. Native Believer: A Novel. Akashic Books, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:33:21
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Ali Eteraz is based at the San Francisco Writer's Grotto. He is the author of the coming-of-age memoir Children of Dust (HarperCollins) and the surrealist short story collection Falsipedies & Fibsiennes (Guernica). Eteraz's short fiction has appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, storySouth, and Crossborder, and his nonfiction has been highlighted by NPR, the New York Times, and the Guardian. Recently, Eteraz received the 3 Quarks Daily Arts & Literature Prize judged by Mohsin Hamid, and served as a consultant to the artist Jenny Holzer on a permanent art installation in Qatar.
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fullDescription
“[A] wickedly funny Philadelphia picaresque about a secular Muslim’s identity crisis in a country waging a never-ending war on terror.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
Ali Eteraz’s much-anticipated debut novel is the story of M., a supportive husband, adventureless dandy, lapsed believer, and second-generation immigrant who wants nothing more than to host parties and bring children into the world as full-fledged Americans. As M.’s life gradually fragments around him—a wife with a chronic illness, a best friend stricken with grief, a boss jeopardizing a respectable career—M. spins out into the pulsating underbelly of Philadelphia, where he encounters others grappling with fallout from the war on terror. Among the pornographers and converts to Islam, punks and wrestlers, M. confronts his existential degradation and the life of a second-class citizen.
 
Darkly comic, provocative, and insightful, Native Believer is a startling vision of the contemporary American experience and the human capacity to shape identity and belonging at all costs.
 
Native Believer stands as an important contribution to American literary culture: a book quite unlike any I’ve read in recent memory, which uses its characters to explore questions vital to our continuing national discourse around Islam.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“A page-turning contemporary fiction that addresses burning issues about the very essence of identity, and without question Ali Eteraz is a writer’s writer, one whose ear for the English language is just as acute as fellow naturalized Americans Vladimir Nabokov (born in Russia) or Viet Thanh Nguyen (Vietnam).” —Los Angeles Review of Books
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Jaggery Lit
      • content:

        "Eteraz is a brave writer whose narrative immerses you in a world of fear, doubt, identity crises, and paranoia. He exposes the mind of the American citizen separated from the norm because of who he is, was, or could be. Native Believer is a relevant book and should be read for its fine prose."

      • premium: False
      • source: CounterPunch
      • content: "Eteraz's novel asks what Muslims must do to themselves in order to be successful in the United States--deny their heritage? Buy into America's war machine? Watch as the Middle East goes up in flames?"
      • premium: False
      • source: Lorraine Adams, author of The Room and the Chair
      • content: "Ali Eteraz has written a hurricane of a novel. It blows open the secrets and longings of Muslim immigration to the West, sweeping us up in the drama of identity in ways newly raw. This is no poised and prettified tale; buckle in for a uproariously messy and revealing ride."
      • premium: False
      • source: Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood
      • content: "Merciless, intellectually lacerating, and brutally funny, Native Believer is not merely a Gonzo panorama of Muslim America--it's one of the most incisive novels I've ever read on America itself. Eteraz paints our empire with the same erotic longing and black, depraved wit that Nabokov used sixty years ago in Lolita. But whereas Nabokov's work was set in the heyday of America's cheerful upswing, Eteraz sets the country in the new, fractious world order. Here, sex, money, and violence all stake their claims on treacherously shifting identities--and neither love nor god is an escape."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian
      • content: "M is a secular Muslim who is fired from his job for nebulous reasons, which we suspect are related to his heritage. Despite his own belief that he is living in 'post-racial America,' M is unable to escape from prejudices formed without his participation, in part due to the ongoing war on terror."
      • premium: False
      • source: Qantara.de
      • content: "This is a brilliant, unapologetic book...It's also the perfect book for our times. In a just world it would be awarded a place alongside other great civil rights books. However, it will probably just end up being banned and scorned by the self-righteous and the blind; the ones who need to read and understand it the most."
      • premium: False
      • source: Wagas Mizra
      • content: "A kaleidoscopic panorama of 21st century America...Surveying broad swaths of a breathtaking tapestry, across a landscape populated by a colorfully sundry cast, Eteraz manages to tease out the core contradictions of life in contemporary America. The story is set in a vividly rendered Philadelphia, where loyalties are in constant flux, where roots often act as shackles, and the pursuit of the American dream is hampered at every turn by the relentless pull of a past that never ceases to exist."
      • premium: False
      • source: Asian American Literature Fans
      • content: "[A] fiery debut...An incendiary novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: Andrew Ervin, author of Burning Down George Orwell's House
      • content: "Ali Eteraz has written a novel, both heartbreaking and exultant, about how it feels to get scalded by the great melting pot. He is a writer of tremendous nuance, sensitivity, and insight. An enormous triumph in its own right, Native Believer also points toward an even brighter future for American fiction."
      • premium: False
      • source: Scott Cheshire, author of High as the Horses' Bridles
      • content: "Knife-sharp and ruthlessly funny, Native Believer is the American novel of now. Right now. Eteraz's writing is exciting, beautiful, and jam-packed with intelligent surprise. I saw myself among its infidels and dreamers, its pornographers and heathens, its believers, the lovers, and the lost. I could not put it down."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "A gifted writer and scholar, Eteraz is able to create a true-life Islamic bildungsroman as he effortlessly conveys his coming-of-age tale while educating the reader...His catharsis transcends the page."
      • premium: False
      • source: Laila Lalami, author of The Moor's Account
      • content: "The gripping story of a young man exposed to both the beauty and ugliness of religion."
      • premium: False
      • source: CounterPunch
      • content: "An astoundingly frightening, funny, and brave book. At a time when debate and reform in the larger landscape of the Muslim world, and in countries like Pakistan in particular, are virtually non-existent, Children of Dust is a call to thought."
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 15, 2016
        A secular Muslim searches for his place in America in this biting satire from first-time novelist Eteraz (Falsipedies and Fibsiennes, 2014, etc.). As a teenager growing up in Alabama, M. saw Islam as "one of those things that foreigners did, like soccer, or kung fu, or Bollywood." So it comes as something of a surprise to this second-generation American, now living in Philadelphia, when he loses his PR job after his new boss, at M.'s apartment for a work party, spots a Quran high atop a bookshelf and determines M. isn't "democratic" enough for the "business-culture" of the company. A "protected" child of the 1980s and '90s who eats "the West, breakfast, lunch, and dinner," M. feels particularly unequipped to fight discrimination. "The bespectacled gadfly from Chicago I had grown up with wasn't Malik El-Shabazz but Steven Q. Urkel," he laments early on. At the insistence of his wife, Marie-Anne, a white South Carolinian suffering a cortisol imbalance that's made her gain tremendous weight, M. becomes a freelance marketing consultant and "social-media maven." Soon he's immersed in a diverse set of Muslim communities: creating a PowerPoint for a "playboy princeling" hoping to sell exercise DVDs to American audiences, partying with the members of a punk rock/rap group called the Gay Commie Muzzies, under the employ of the "Muslim Outreach Coordinator" at the State Department. Though at times in need of a trim (M.'s interior monologues can feel repetitive by book's end), Eteraz's narrative is witty and unpredictable. Marie-Anne, whose weight and domineering nature make her at first seem potentially cartoonish, becomes more complicated as the novel progresses, and the darkly comic ending is pleasingly macabre. As for M., in this identity-obsessed dandy, Eteraz has created a perfect protagonist for the times. A provocative and very funny exploration of Muslim identity in America today.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 15, 2016

        M. is a second-generation American uninterested in religion, in love with his gorgeous Amazon of a wife, and determined to enjoy the fruits of his homeland. But at the party he and Anne-Marie are hosting for colleagues, trouble starts to surface. Anne-Marie again voices her opposition to having children, and M.'s overbearing boss is dismayed to discover a Qu'ran shoved away on a top shelf (above the works of Nietzsche and Goethe, no less). Suddenly M.'s professional prospects dim, and he launches a freelance career that brings him in touch with Muslim communities. VERDICT In bitingly funny prose, first novelist Eteraz (known for his memoir, Children of Dust) sums up the pain and contradictions of an American not wanting to be categorized; the ending is a bang-up surprise.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        May 1, 2016
        This poignant and profoundly funny first novel follows a young, lapsed Muslim in post-9/11 Philadelphia, a city on edge long after the attacks. The narrator, M., struggles with familiar grumblings at the workplace and romantic quirks in his marriage, until an uncomfortable encounter with his new boss leaves him abruptly unemployed, with a strong suspicion that religious discrimination influenced his firing. His newfound free time frustrates his wife, Marie-Anne, and infuriates his friend, Richard, who insists on filing a lawsuit. Eteraz, the author of Children of Dust (2009), a memoir about his childhood in Pakistan and young adulthood in the U.S., draws on enough autobiography to make M. relatable and reliable as the faith of his forefathers resurfaces in his life. Ambigious at times, Eteraz atones for his wordiness with a plethora of metaphors, such as comparing the divine lips of a French actress to the hull of a prophetic ark or the arc of a perfect plot. Eteraz combines masterful storytelling with intelligent commentary to create a nuanced work of social and political art.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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“[A] wickedly funny Philadelphia picaresque about a secular Muslim’s identity crisis in a country waging a never-ending war on terror.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
Ali Eteraz’s much-anticipated debut novel is the story of M., a supportive husband, adventureless dandy, lapsed believer, and second-generation immigrant who wants nothing more than to host parties and bring children into the world as full-fledged Americans. As M.’s life gradually fragments around him—a wife with a chronic illness, a best friend stricken with grief, a boss jeopardizing a respectable career—M. spins out into the pulsating underbelly of Philadelphia, where he encounters others grappling with fallout from the war on terror. Among the pornographers and converts to Islam, punks and wrestlers, M. confronts his existential degradation and the life of a second-class citizen.
 
Darkly comic, provocative, and...
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