H.M. Naqvi And Home Boy

Monday, November 09, 2009

From the NY Times Sunday reviews - because you do want to know.

By H. M. Naqvi.
Shaye Areheart, $23.

Naqvi’s smart and sorrowful debut is at once immigrant narrative, bildungs­roman and New York City novel, with a dash of the picaresque. Immigrant stories are often appealing not only because they dramatize the longing to trade oppression for freedom and prosperity, but also because they have the perfect antagonist: America itself. Set in Manhattan just after Sept. 11, 2001, this novel follows three bright and likable college-­age Pakistani men — AC, Jimbo and Chuck. Before 9/11, they fancy themselves “boulevardiers, raconteurs, renaissance men,” delighting in the self-invention that New York permits.

After 9/11, everything changes. They abandon their “Metrostani” lifestyle to watch CNN all day, feeling “anxious and low and getting cabin fever.” Finally, they decide action is called for: “There was something heroic in persisting, carrying on.” They plan a road trip to find a mysterious Gatsby­esque friend (the novel is filled with allusions to Fitzgerald), and discover the same thing Gatsby did — there are limits to self-invention in America. Naqvi is a former slam poet, and his exuberant sentences burst with the rhythms and driving power of that form while steering clear of bombast. “Home Boy” is a remarkably engaging novel that delights as it disturbs.

And yes.

This book is going on my reading list as well.

Although we kind of know how that usually goes...