Book Review – Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar

First published, 2020

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Homeland Elegies is a literary work by acclaimed playwright and novelist, Ayad Akhtar.

The narrative follows the differences in life experience between a man who has been born, lived and grown in America, and his Pakistani family. From other people’s perceptions in the wake of 9/11, through professional experiences as Donald Trump’s physician, and touching on life as a modern American playwright, it’s more a love letter to the concept of family, than anything else. But a true love letter. Not schmaltzy, over-sweetened nonsense that can be wrapped up in a bow; this is a recognition of a person’s flaws and acceptance of the same, in written form.

This is a difficult one to rate because, although the book announces itself as a novel right in the beginning, it reads like a semi-autobiographical account, in a series of essays. Perhaps it feels less like a novel and more like a dissertation because of the presence of footnotes. In any case, although the writing is a thing of wonder, political, intellectual, immersive, and all that beautiful stuff, the thought that lingers in the back of the mind – “This is a novel,” – is frustrating and disturbs the fluency of the reading.