Children of Dust

Children of Dust : A Portrait of a Muslim as a Young Man

3.53 (737 ratings by Goodreads)
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Centered around the rural areas of Pakistan, "Children of Dust" is a memoir that chronicles a boy's coming of age in a fundamentalist milieu, and offers a detailed account of the ways in which people internalize and submit to Islamic extremism and social alienation. It sets forth a harrowing narrative of abuse and violence, an intimate portrait of life at the lower levels of Pakistani society, an exploration of love in a place where both romance and women are reviled, a discussion on the rise of religious fanaticism, and an intellectual reflection on the mental totalitarianism of global Wahhabism. After settling in the US, where he entered college and began evaluating his past with a critical eye, Ali and his family returned to Pakistan in 1999. He found the cities of his youth dominated by the ideology of the Taliban, filled with members of al-Qaeda, and his extended family caught up in a fight for survival. He became the target of an al-Qaeda plot to abduct and hold him ransom for being a purported CIA agent. He eventually had to escape under military escort.
One of the fundamental questions animating the book is how the author reconciled himself with the violence he experienced without becoming consumed by it. This question opens the door to searing reflections on the possibilities of reform in Islam by an individual who, as a human rights lawyer and activist, has now been intimately involved in such efforts for a decade.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 135 x 203 x 20mm | 454g
  • HarperOne
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0061626856
  • 9780061626852
  • 411,472

Back cover copy

An extraordinary personal journey from Islamic fundamentalism to a new life in the west

In this spellbinding portrayal of a life that few Americans can imagine, Ali Eteraz tells the story of his schooling in a madrassa in Pakistan, his teenage years as a Muslim American in the Bible Belt, and his voyage 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 and the temptations of religious extremism.
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Review quote

[Eteraz's] adventures are a heavenly read. -- O, The Oprah Magazine Wildly entertaining, Children of Dust is memoir of the first order, as genuinely American as Muslim, unraveling the perilous mystery that is modern Pakistan as only memoir can. Unlike others, Eteraz has truly 'been there,' and we are all the better for it. -- Murad Kalam, author of Night Journey The gripping story of a young man exposed to both the beauty and ugliness of religion. -- Laila Lalami, author of Secret Son A love letter to one man's fading faith, Children of Dust is a gift and a necessity, and should be read by believers and nonbelievers alike. Sure to deepen our collective conversation about religion and reason, loyalty and universality, and our geopolitical aims, it's also just plain fun to read. -- Yael Goldstein Love, author of Overture: A Novel and The Passion of Tasha Darsky "In Children of Dust ... we follow the journey of a soul determined to reconcile the many worlds that live inside him. In a time rife with cultural misinterpretations and generalizations, sensitive accounts such as Children of Dust are invaluable assets." -- Laleh Khadivi, novelist, author of The Age of Orphans 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. -- Fatima Bhutto, poet and writer This elegantly written memoir traces [Eteraz's] relationship with the religion of his birth, from his 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. -- Booklist "A gifted writer and scholar, Eteraz is able to create a true-life Islamic bildungsroman as he effortlessly conveys his comingof- age tale while educating the reader. When his religious awakening finally occurs, his catharsis transcends the page." -- Publishers Weekly "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." -- San Jose Mercury News Compelling. -- Washington Post "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." -- The Providence Journal "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." -- "...Not only for people who are interested in Pakistan or Islamic issues, but for anyone looking for a compelling personal story. Because ultimately, this memoir isn't about religion but about a fascinating quest for selffulfillment." -- "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." -- "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." -- Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies
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About Ali Eteraz

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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Rating details

737 ratings
3.53 out of 5 stars
5 20% (146)
4 33% (243)
3 32% (235)
2 12% (88)
1 3% (25)
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