Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series/Summer Reading Program: Q&A with Ayad Akhtar

Photo by Nina Subin

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The Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series and The Summer Reading Program present

Summer Reading Program Author and 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner


Tuesday, September 10

Question and Answer Panel Discussion

Blue Ridge Ballroom

2 p.m.

For additional information about the Summer Reading Program and related events, please visit


Parking is free on campus after 5 p.m. We recommend the Library Parking Deck on College Street (from King Street, turn down College Street at the First Baptist Church). To reach the Student Union, cross College Street and follow the walkway between the chiller plant and the University Bookstore, passing the Post Office and entering the Student Union on the second floor. For further parking information or a map, please see or call the Parking and Traffic Office (828) 262-2878.

Ayad Akhtar is the author of the critically acclaimed coming-of-age novel American Dervish. Selected as Appalachian’s Summer Reading Program text for 2013, the book has been embraced around the world for the richness of its characters and illuminating the everyday lives of Muslim Americans, earning Akhtar a place alongside today’s most compelling storytellers. In all of his writing, Akhtar attempts to open a window on the vibrant and complex reality of the Muslim American experience. In American Dervish, he has blown the door open on this world, demonstrating a deft understanding of faith and our complex relationship with it and of pubescent love and caprice. The novel centers on one family’s struggle to identify both as Muslim and American, one boy’s devotion to his faith, and the sometimes tragic implications of extremism. As an American-born, first-generation Pakistani-American, Akhtar wanted to recount the rarely told coming-of-age story of a Muslim-American boy. The Shah family copes with faith and belonging in pre–9/11 suburbia, and through them the reader understands the struggles, challenges, value, and cost of being Muslim in America.

Published in 25 languages worldwide, American Dervish was voted a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O, the Oprah Magazine. Akhtar is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and a screenwriter. His stage play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Jeff Equity Award for Best New Play in 2012. Disgraced is the story of a successful Pakistani-American lawyer whose dinner party spins out of control amid a heated discussion of identity and religion. As a screenwriter, Akhtar was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has received commissions from Lincoln Center and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing. Since the 1990s he has been a resident of New York City, where he has taught acting on his own and alongside Andre Gregory (My Dinner with Andre, Vanya on 42nd Street).

Dates and Times

Date and Time Admission Location Map Link
Tue, 09/10/2013 - 2:00pm Admission is free Blue Ridge Ballroom, 2nd floor Plemmons Student Union n/a

The Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series

The Visiting Writers Series is named in honor of Hughlene Bostian Frank (class of 1968), a 2013 Appalachian Alumni Association Outstanding Service award recipient, past member of Appalachian's Board of Trustees, current board member of the ASU Foundation, and generous supporter of Appalachian State University. Honoring the late newspaperwoman and writer Rachel Rivers-Coffey, the Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professorship in Creative Writing annually sponsors the fall semester residency of...