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Children of Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan
     

Children of Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan

by Ali Eteraz
 

Ali Eteraz's Children of Dust is a spellbinding portrayal of a life that few Americans can imagine. From his schooling in a madrassa in Pakistan to his teenage years as a Muslim American in the Bible Belt, and back to Pakistan to find a pious Muslim wife, this lyrical, penetrating saga from a brilliant new literary voice captures the heart of our universal

Overview

Ali Eteraz's Children of Dust is a spellbinding portrayal of a life that few Americans can imagine. From his schooling in a madrassa in Pakistan to his teenage years as a Muslim American in the Bible Belt, and back to Pakistan to find a pious Muslim wife, this lyrical, penetrating saga from a brilliant new literary voice captures the heart of our universal quest for identity.

Children of Dust begins in rural Islam at the lowest levels of Pakistani society in the turbulent eighties. This intimate portrayal of rustic village life is revealed through a young boy's eyes as he discovers magic, women, and friendship.

After immigrating with his family to the United States, Eteraz struggles to be a normal American teenager under the rules of a strict Muslim household.

In 1999, he returns to Pakistan to find the villages of his youth dominated by the ideology of the Taliban, filled with young men spouting militant rhetoric, and his extended family under threat. Eteraz becomes the target of a mysterious abduction plot when he is purported to be a CIA agent, and eventually has to escape under military escort.

Back in the United States, with his fundamentalist illusions now shattered, Eteraz tries to find a middle way within American Islam. At each stage of Eteraz's life, he takes on a different identity to signal his evolution. From being pledged to Islam in Mecca as an infant, through Salafi fundamentalism, to liberal reformer, Eteraz desperately struggles to come to terms with being a Pakistani and a Muslim.

Astonishingly honest, darkly comic, and beautifully told, Children of Dust is an extraordinary adventure that reveals the diversity of Islamic beliefs, the vastness of the Pakistani diaspora, and the very human search for home.

Editorial Reviews

Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies
“Ali’s story is long and heart-rending, sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating, and his willingness to share it makes us all better off in the telling and re-telling as we reflect on our covenants and baggage.”
Washington Post
Compelling.
TheFourthArticle.com
“Written with vivid descriptions, a smattering of urdu words and a very strong sense of nationalism... Children of Dust is an apt description of a thinking muslim.”
San Jose Mercury News
“A …complex story of a young man’s journey into the heart of his own faith.… Knowledgeable, humorous and personable, Eteraz is an engaging storyteller.”
EnterStageRight.com
“Children of Dust is a coming of age story, filled with warmth and humour, but it also explores some very serious questions… a powerful and marvellous personal memoir.”
PickledPolitics.com
“...Not only for people who are interested in Pakistan or Islamic issues, but for anyone looking for a compellingpersonal story. Because ultimately, this memoir isn’t about religion but about a fascinating quest for selffulfillment.”
Booklist
This elegantly written memoir traces [Eteraz’s] relationship with the religion of his birth, fromhis childhood in Pakistan, where he feared beatings at the madrassa, to adulthood in the U.S. . . . Thoughtful and wry, he offers glimpses of a changing Pakistan and a U.S. immigrant’s journey, too.
The Providence Journal
“Eteraz’s memoir is a fascinating, elucidating account of Muslim mores and education. In these times when fears of Islam are high, it is well worth reading.”
Sarah Halzack
Amid all the soul-searching, Eteraz manages to amusingly describe his teenage antics and poke some fun at himself for all the superficial ways he tried to make friends envy him for his piety. These honest details make his story even more compelling.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Eteraz, known for his blog Islamophere, opens his memoir with a vivid description of his father promising Allah that if God bestowed him with a son, that boy “will become a great leader and servant of Islam.” The rest of the book finds Eteraz, whose given name is Abir ul Islam (which translates as “Perfume of Islam”) trying to come to terms with his father's mannat, or covenant, and understand the role that Islam will play in his life as well as the role he will play for Islam. Born in Pakistan but raised in the U.S. from age 10, Eteraz moves easily between describing the holy history and tenets of his faith while exploring and explaining the differences between the Islamic world and Western society. As Eteraz's feelings for Islam change to fit his evolving personal, political and religious views, readers get a glimpse of all aspects of this hot-topic religion, from fundamentalism to reformism, salafism and secularism. 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. When his religious awakening finally occurs, his catharsis transcends the page. (Oct.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061567087
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Pages:
337
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Ali Eteraz was born in Pakistan and has lived in the Middle East, the Caribbean, and the United States. A graduate of Emory University and Temple Law School, he was selected for the Outstanding Scholar's Program at the United States Department of Justice and later worked in corporate litigation in Manhattan. He has published articles in Dissent, Foreign Policy, AlterNet, and altMuslim; and is a regular contributor to The Guardian UK.

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