Milwaukee’s Own Has Written One of the Best Books of the Year

MilMag’s culture editor reviews this best-selling book by local author Ayad Akhtar.

Photo courtesy of Little, Brown and Co.

Many great writers have called Milwaukee home. But few have gone on to achieve the degree of international acclaim that Ayad Akhtar has.

In 2013, the playwright and novelist won a Pulitzer Prize for his play Disgraced. In 2016, he became the most produced playwright in the United States. And this year his newly released novel Homeland Elegies is racking up rave reviews.



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“Never have I experienced such a reading thrill,” best-selling author Maria Semple says. “I put down this novel trembling at the courage it took to write it and determined to be a better American for having read it.”

The novel, which is about a Muslim man who grew up in Wisconsin and wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, offers readers a partially fictionalized account of Akhtar’s own life. Over the course of eight chapters, he recounts his experiences trying to find a place for himself in a country that has never felt entirely like home to him.

The end result is a timely and often tear jerking story of race, class and religion in America that should resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outcast, an outsider looking in. 

Homeland Elegies is available online and at local bookstores.

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s October issue.

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.