“Yes, you can laugh while having your consciousness raised; this memoir proves it.”  O – The Oprah Magazine

Acclaim for

The Perfect Gentleman

Imran Ahmad

'Hurrah for a memoir that isn't miserable!  Hurray for Imran Ahmad's terrific sense of humour ... an entertaining, moving and thoroughly thought-provoking tale of our times.'  
Daily Mail

'Wonderfully evocative and strangely touching.'    The Sunday Times

'A compelling quest for belonging ...'    Guardian

'A fascinating insight ...'    Sydney Morning Herald

'... an amusing and highly accessible book which deals with a range of theological and cross-cultural issues ...'   

Canberra Times

Unimagined is successful in striking that balance, by presenting a thought-provoking debate even as it makes you laugh out loud.’   The Hindu

‘What a very strange book.  There’s more to it than meets the eye … this Trojan horse of a book.’  

 The Book Magazine

 

'Forthright, wry, entirely enjoyable … [he] grew up amid English Christians and questioned his adherence to Islam ... Small but significant events began to shape the author's sense of justice, underscored by his training from age 11 at an Islamic school ... has an engaging voice ... his mannered prose is winning ... At Stirling University in Scotland, he found theology texts more compelling. He was tortured by the suspicion that loving Jesus was the way into Heaven, as instructed by his Evangelical friend Magnus, and that Islam was the religion of Satan ... A scrupulously well-intentioned look at how Christians and Muslims might live respectfully side by side.'    

Kirkus Reviews

' ... wonderfully funny, heart-warming, perceptive, enlightening and ironic ... His episodic story of coming to terms with the ways of the West is reminiscent of Adrian Mole, with echoes of White Teeth, but it has its own unique voice ... endearing, deadpan humour ... Likely to be a word-of-mouth hit ... has the makings of a slow-build bestseller ... '      

Publishing News

‘… a refreshing insight into the texture of life …’    Saudi Gazette

‘Occasionally, booksellers come upon a title which they believe is a defining moment in their trade.’                                                                                                     

Clive Keeble – Bookseller,

Langport, Somerset, UK

‘I don’t normally consider unsolicited approaches, but I just loved Unimagined so much!’

Catherine Lockerbie – Director

Edinburgh International Book Festival

'... had the audience in stitches  ...'    Three Weeks – Edinburgh Festival Review

‘I read the first thirty pages just standing in front of the bookcase in the Edinburgh Festival bookshop.  I knew there and then that it would make great television and I would make it happen.’

Barry Ryan – Creative Director, Free@Last Television

‘Imran Ahmad, and his book Unimagined, came to my attention by pure chance on a rainy Edinburgh evening, when after hearing authors speak all day, I sought a moment of peace in the Writers' Yurt.  But, as is his way, Imran promptly turned chance into opportunity.  As a seasoned Festival Director, I'm usually quite deft at parrying the unsolicited approaches of authors keen to snag themselves a place on the programme – but it is simply impossible not to warm to Imran's contagious and irresistible enthusiasm.

 

It is also impossible not to enjoy and be moved by Imran's book; his whimsical self-deprecating style is the spoonful of sugar that belies the importance of his work and the wisdom which informs it.  So I took a punt and included an author on the programme who was little known in Australia.

 

In Sydney, Imran proved himself as the Festival wild card, delighting his audience with his wonderful sense of humour and entertaining public speaking, impressing the industry, and quickly gathering invitations to speak in the region – not to mention picking up an Australian publisher and selling a bundle of books.  Imran's extraordinary success with Unimagined is testimony to the quality of his work, but also to his dogged determination to make a difference to the world, his unfailing optimism, and his faith in humanity.  I always look forward to hearing the latest chapter in Imran's life story; he has many adventures ahead of him.’

 

Wendy Were Director, Sydney Writers’ Festival

‘My team and I read Unimagined this weekend, and we all loved it.  I learned more about Islam and the West from reading Unimagined, than I did from all the other books I’ve read, put together.’

Juliet Rogers – CEO, Murdoch Books, Sydney

‘I met Imran at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2008 and we kept running into each other.  Through a wonderful synchronicity, I introduced him to Juliet Rogers of Murdoch Books, who subsequently became his Australian publisher.  Imran gave me a copy of Unimagined to take home to Bali.  I was short of time, so I gave it to my PA, Elizabeth Henzell, to read.  I heard her laughing a lot as she read it, I asked her what it was like, and she replied, ‘It’s wonderful!’  I promptly took it from her. 

 

I invited Imran to Bali for UWRF 2008, and he was extremely grateful for what he kept describing as a ‘magical’ experience.  He was a delight to the audiences, his book sold out completely, and another synchronicity brought him an Indonesian publisher.  We were delighted to have him back for UWRF 2009.’

 

Janet DeNeefe – Director, Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (Bali)

‘I met Imran at UWRF 2008 in Bali, and invited him to the Byron Bay Writers Festival 2009.  Imran said ‘yes’ to everything he was asked to do: a pre-Festival event; the schools’ day; the Writers’ Cabaret; the evening art gallery chat; ABC Radio; Southern Cross University; not to mention panel events with some professional comedians.  The audiences really warmed to Imran, with his sharp, self-deprecating humour; his book completely sold out even before his last event; and Unimagined was BBWF 2009’s Number One Bestseller.  Byron Bay hasn’t seen the last of Imran!’

Jeni Caffin – Director, Byron Bay Writers Festival (Australia)

‘I met Jeni Caffin at the Melbourne Writers Festival in September 2009. Jeni wrote and told me about Imran Ahmad, an author who had been to her festival, and she sent a video link. Although our programme for Emirates Literary Festival 2010 was closed, I was tempted to invite Imran. I am so glad I went with my gut instinct.

 

Imran  was funny and eloquent, and engaged with everyone he met: the press, the radio, festival goers, students, UAE writers.  His  performance at the Festival was original, absorbing and highly entertaining. He made contact with an Arabic  publisher ( his book will appear in Arabic as a result), and copies of Unimagined sold out.  

 

Imran’s account of his trip to Dubai and the literary festival is on his website, and brings another part of his journey to life, and his voice shines through.’

 

 

 

Isobel F. Abulhoul – Director, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (Dubai)

'The tender humour and intelligence of this memoir belies its political importance; through it, Muslims are humanised.  Imran Ahmad, Pakistan-born and London-raised, writes beautifully of his life … Just beautiful.'

Antonella Gambotto-Burke Author, journalist, campaigner

'My favourite book of 2007 is this memoir of a Muslim boy, born in Pakistan, who moves to London at the age of one in the 1960s. With his Islamic identity and desire to embrace the West, the book paints a beautiful picture of growing up in a strange culture ... the end result is unforgettable.'

Ann Widdecombe – Member of Parliament, author, columnist, television presenter

'Unimagined is a funny, beguiling and insightful account of a young British Muslim boy growing up in 60s and 70s British society – his encounters early on in life with racism, and later with the material world of fashion, cars and girls.

 

Above all, though, it’s his struggle to find his religious identity that makes this timely book so important.  Imran Ahmad takes us with him on his personal journey of discovery, gradually learning the meaning of Islam, measuring it alongside Christianity and working out where and how he fits in.  I can’t wait to read more.'

 

Sue Cook – Broadcaster, writer

'This absorbing personal tale probably does more to help us understand each other in our multi-cultural society than one hundred Downing Street seminars.  It’s also very funny.’

John Pienaar – BBC Senior Political Correspondent, BBC Radio Five Political Editor

'Charming, informative and honest ... a childhood memoir in which the occasional bad thing happens, but is remembered and communicated without the melodrama or martyrdom of the form. The author has a photographic memory for all the important bits: mechanical failure in secondhand cars, dialogue and news stories glimpsed on television and precise exam scores.  I enjoyed the book very much ... I read Unimagined in two days.’                                                           

Andrew Collins Presenter: BBC Radio 6 Music;  Film Editor: Radio Times;  Author.

'I was delightfully surprised to find a witty and incredibly relevant memoir which had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. It reminded me of Nigel Slater's Toast with the short, pithy chapters which are both moving and funny at the same time ... What's more, he has the best author [cover] photo I have seen in years. '                                        

Scott Pack Former Buying Manager: Waterstone’s;  Commercial Director: The Friday Project

'In Unimagined, Imran Ahmad writes with warmth, humour and insight about the challenges and joys of growing up nerdy, dreamy and Muslim in Britain.'  

Emily Maguire Writer, columnist

'Compelling, revealing, and very easy to read.  I liked the short chapters and the way the incidental observations added up to a bigger picture.'  

Rosie Boycott Broadcaster, journalist, author

 

'I consumed Unimagined as soon as I started it.  I couldn't wait until the plane ride.  It was an absolute joy to read.  I loved every moment of it ...'  

Randa Abdel-Fattah   Writer, lawyer

'... style and a sense of humour ... what a change ... what a delightful change ... brilliant stories too about the joys and confusions of identity politics ...'

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown Broadcaster, journalist, author, columnist

Unimagined follows Imran Ahmad through his childhood days growing up as a Muslim in Britain during the 60’s, 70's and 80's, through school, university and into his first job.  It is engaging, an easy read and truly very funny.  Most of all it is profound and revealing, giving the Western reader a deep insight into the Muslim psyche.  In these days of incomprehensible suicide bombings and agonising military campaigns, when we live under the shadow of the 'Clash of Civilisations', this is a book that gives the world clarity and, perhaps, optimism.’

Hugh Fraser Broadcaster, writer

Book of the Week: ‘I am jumping unashamedly onto this particular bandwagon as this is one of the best books I have read in ages.  Clever, simple, funny and sad, the book describes the author's experience of growing up a Muslim in a newly multi-cultural Britain.  Impossible to put down and equally impossible to forget.’ forget.’                                              

Clare Christian Managing Director: The Friday Project

'A charming, funny, heart-warming, unputdownable, disarmingly self-deprecating and true story of growing up as a Pakistani Muslim in Britain in the 70s and 80s. Imran Ahmad writes with an extremely light touch, but underneath there's a serious intention: to explode stereotypes, challenge bigotry with humor, and bring about a greater understanding of what it means to yearn to be James Bond.'

 

 

Professor Ruth Evans Department of English: Saint Louis University

“I loved your book!  I gave it to my mother, and she loved it.  Then my sister read it and she loved it. Now my other sister is reading it. ... Of course you can have a late checkout.”                                                                               

Mary Sitkowski Manager of Chicago O'Hare Garden Hotel

Imran, you bastard!  I'm supposed to be revising for my Congress exam, and picked up your book for “just a bit.”  Now I've read the whole damn thing! … We have so much in common, I might be your twin.’                                               

Email from  Lieut Greg Bowling Texas National Guard

‘My grandson (just turned 16) is not going through adolescence very gracefully so far and just spent 2 weeks in juvenile detention.  (We hope this "wake-up call" will turn his life around with a heavy dose of support and encouragement from all available family members....)  While he was in detention, we were able to take him books, so I ordered a copy of Unimagined for him, and he really, really enjoyed it.’    

Email from  Louise J – Boise, Idaho

‘Imran's book is so refreshing.’   

James McBride – Author of The Color of Water    (addressing audience at Perth Writers’ Festival)

From: Kelder, Jeroen

To: Ahmad, Imran

Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 5:41 PM

Subject: Your book

Amazing – I sat next to a gentleman in the plane and he was reading your book and laughing.  Have to note that he was quintessentially British.

Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

a Muslim boy meets the West

‘… such a trite and puerile book … this hypocritical twerp’s simplistically written tome [is] galling.’           

Billingsgate Book Club, Sydney, Australia

 

‘… a fluffy read  of no real consequence.’           

Alan Baxter – self-published writer of horror fiction; Kung Fu instructor

 

Originally published in UK/Australia as Unimagined

Kevin Tanner (Sydney, Australia) is deeply touched and greatly moved, and just can’t stop thinking about this book.

‘Imran Ahmad came second in the Karachi Bonnie Baby competition. The photograph taken to commemorate his achievement is reproduced on the cover of this delightful book.   “Smartly dressed, suave and handsome, I looked like James Bond, although I was somewhat unsteady on my feet.”  Imran was denied the first prize – the daughter of the organisers won.  The judges were their friends.  “I began my lifelong struggle against corruption and injustice.”   Unimagined is beautifully written, funny and endearing, and in its own quiet way, important.’

 

Sue Townsend

- author of ‘Adrian Mole’ books

Dear Imran,

I'm sorry to have kept you waiting so long. Things overtook me, and in my disorganised way (quite unlike the persona you present in 'Unimagined') I let it slip until the day before yesterday, when I took up the book again and read it through with great pleasure.
 

It deserves all the praise it's had – it's very clearly and vividly written, it's funny and perceptive about schools and neighbours and friends and girls and especially about the narrator himself, with his continuing puzzlement about religion, his smartly pressed clothes, and his apparently naïve fixation with cars.


It's very clever, actually, to have presented a character so original and unusual, and yet so warmly human and recognisable. The "I" of the book is a real literary creation – and I don't mean, of course that you made any of it up: just that a successful memoir depends just as much on art as a successful novel does.


I'm very happy for you and your publishers to quote any of this. Good luck with your literary career as well as your business one!


Yours,

Philip Pullman  (author of ‘The Golden Compass’ series)

 

‘Not right for my list.  Good luck elsewhere.’     Countless literary agents

‘Not miserable enough’ … ‘no terrorism angle’ … ‘not interested.’    Top UK publishers

‘Seldom have I enjoyed a manuscript so much.’     Karen Ings – Commissioning Editor

Book

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a Muslim boy meets the West
THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN
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Unimagined is a delightful story … gentle, very funny, and quietly assertive. It could not be more refreshing or timely.” 
Isabel Taylor,  Albion magazine
“ … a witty and often heart-warming account of growing up with two cultures, while his reflections on his Muslim identity make this a particularly topical memoir.”  
The Good Book Guide
“There are topics for reading groups, however this book also makes a fantastic personal read being both thought-provoking and very funny.”  
Emma Everington,  New Books magazine
“I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed this book … Look, just go and buy it … What’s not to like?  Eh?”
Linda Grant,  multiple-prize-winning novelist; author of The Clothes on Their Backs 
Unimagined is in my opinion one of the most important books I’ve read in the last couple of years.  It’s a quietly subversive masterpiece of militant moderation, and everyone should read it.”
Jonathan Pinnock, writer; blogger, www.jonathanpinnock.com
Unimagined is irresistible – a charming, laugh-out-loud-funny memoir of a Muslim Pakistani boy growing up in the western world. Full of surprises, hard to put down.”
John Berendt,  author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
“The story of Imran Ahmad’s journey to authorship is as hilariously entertaining as the book he penned … how remarkably honest, hilarious and heartstring-tugging the book is …”
MPH Quill magazine, Malaysia
“ ... the mark of classic literature is that it goes straight to the heart – no matter the historical or class or ethno-cultural background of both writer and reader ... a wonderful book and the chance to reflect again on our shared humanity.”
Letter from Jim Kable,
Australian living in Japan
“… endearing …unexpectedly subtle and touching …”
Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
“…humorous and heartwarming … more remarkable is its authenticity.”
Austrolabe, Australia
“… exceptionally well-balanced … a part-funny, part-serious book and it works like a dream … had me enthralled … very good indeed.”
Lynne Hatwell,  dovegreyreader
“… timely and most endearing … a whimsical undertone … describes a journey of self-discovery, integration and the challenges of coming of age in the West … invites connection and familiarity with its readers …”
Emel magazine
“… poignant and often hilarious … went down a storm at the Edinburgh International Book Festival … will keep his audience in stitches.”
The Morley Observer
“… [this] book is just so wonderful!”
Deborah Harper,  Psychjourney
“… an ever present humor … funny and entertaining … incredibly ‘readable’ … I wanted to keep on reading it and find out what was going to happen next.”
Media and Islam, San Francisco
“… [a] funny account of growing up as a Muslim …”
Panel Selection in Bookseller’s Choice
“… refreshingly upbeat … vividly and with deadpan humour describes his struggles to find his place in [the] world … often laugh-out-loud … entertaining … quietly significant … insightful and occasionally thought provoking, it’s a discreetly inspirational portrait of a boy determined to find the common ground between his roots and his desire to embrace the West.”
Lynn McGarry, The Glasgow Herald
“… doesn’t contain any of the fighting radicals, extremists, fundamentalists and other nasty types who, if you believe what you read in the New York Post, are the only types of Muslims that exist.”
NewMatilda.com,  Australia
“… a very readable book … I guarantee that Unimagined will make you laugh out aloud many times before you reach the end.”
Vinod Joseph,  Desicritics.org 
"I read the delicious episodic chapters of Unimagined as though I was eating a bag of my favourite sweets. I placed one in my mouth and thought, mmmmm, yummmm, I need another. I chewed another, and wanted a third. I popped the third into my mouth, and knew I would not — could not stop with a fourth. I would eat all the sweets in a single go. ... I did! ... I read this endearing memoir in a single evening. I can still feel the endorphin-produced pleasure in my mind. I’m still smiling.”
Dr Joel Hayward,  Dean of the Royal Air Force College, RAF Cranwell

Foreword to US and Australian Edition

by Bruce Elder  

 

Over the past five years, in the role of reviewer of non-fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald, I have read more than one thousand books.  Inevitably people query anyone's ability to read, absorb and evaluate so many books.  Yet there are a couple of simple truths about such a frightening workload.  

 

How do I read that many books?  In two words: speed reading.  But, more importantly, how does anyone confronted with such a daunting task know that their judgement is sound and their enthusiasms are correct? 

 

A second simple truth: non-fiction falls into easily identifiable categories.

 

Category A: books which would make a good magazine article and which some bright-eyed publisher has persuaded an author to flesh out to 80-100,000 words.

 

Category B: books where the idea – be it a biography of a celebrity or an account of a widely publicised crime – is what the publisher wants, and, anyway, there's always a sub-editor waiting to turn tortured and tortuous prose into something approaching plain English.

 

Category C: books where the writing is so beautiful, lucid, imaginative and worthwhile that they rise above the pile trailing clouds of glory and making the reviewer's heart sing.  This last category, I can assure you, is very small.  

 

After a while the overworked reviewer gets a ‘nose’ for Category C.  The gems sit in the mountains of dross (don't get me started on the argument about too many books being published) in the Literary Editor's office shyly saying, ‘Open me and you will be amazed.’

 

And so it was that, amongst another pile of books for review, I saw a photograph of a dapper child in a suit and said to myself: ‘I wonder what that is about.’  

 

Contrary to accepted wisdom, when you've read a thousand books you can identify a ‘goodie’ after a couple of paragraphs.  And the wonder of a ‘goodie’ book is that it turns a speed reader with a deadline into a ‘reading for enjoyment’ lover of literature and, instantly, you are savouring every word, laughing at the happy moments, letting the life of another person wash over you and saturate your being, marvelling at the love of language and being swept along by the sheer power and beauty of a writer determined to tell his or her story. 

 

I still remember my experience with The Perfect Gentleman.  It filled an entire day. I could not put the book down.  I laughed at Imran's memories of his childhood. I marvelled at his ability to look at his stumbles with such fearless honesty and I shared his gentle, wry irritation at the unfairness of the world.  

 

The greatness of this book is easy to understand.  Read it and you will come to know Imran Ahmad as though you have spent a lifetime growing up with him.  You will warm to his wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humour and, almost incidentally, you will learn a lot about yourself and a vast amount about the complex multicultural confusion of growing up as an immigrant Pakistani Muslim in England.  This is a wise and witty book about the new cultural reality of globalisation. 

 

Bruce Elder

 

‘If you read nothing else this year ,discover this book.’     New York Journal of Books

No. 1 in ‘Top Ten Titles to Pick Up Now’     O – The Oprah Magazine

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MACLEAN’S

 

New Straits Times

 

The Star

PRESTIGE

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Liberty Books

 

fz

 

Oprah.com

Silencios

Que

Falam

Cronicas

de uma

Leitora

O tempo

entre os

meus  livros

O Que  

Os Livros Me Dizem

Viajar

Pela

Leitura

 

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Sinfonia

Dos

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nlivros

“Yes, you can laugh while having your consciousness raised; this memoir proves it.”  O – The Oprah Magazine

Home.
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EVENTS.