Children of Dust: A Portrait of a Muslim as a Young Man (Review)

Book cover for "Children of Dust" by Ali Eteraz.Title: Children of Dust: A Portrait of a Muslim as a Young Man

Author: Ali Eteraz

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 352

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Source: Review copy from the publisher

From the cover:

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.

This book captured my attention – and made me laugh – pretty much right from the get-go.

Eteraz tells his story right from his childhood in Pakistan through to his later years in the United States in Children of Dust, including other movement in between. In particular, he focuses on the way in which his faith – and other aspects of his life – shift, change, and grow over the years. This is what I found most fascinating, the depiction of his journey to find himself and to find meaning in Islam.

To say that this book chronicles a man’s journey away from extremism is overly simplistic. Rather, Eteraz really gets into the nitty-gritty of his family’s conservative life in Pakistan, the struggles they encountered to maintain their faith after relocating to the US, the encounters that he had with “fundamentalism” (including, but not at all limited to, ultra-conservative sects), and then his ultimate quest to find “real” Islam, and himself in the process. There were absolutely parts of the book that made me cringe, but the way Eteraz presented events made it okay, because it was obvious that each anecdote was part of his exploration into Islam, Pakistani culture, and the area where being “Muslim” and being “American” meet.

Children of Dust is a fascinating look into the personal growth of one person, as well as a view of Islam from within a very specific context. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves memoirs or is otherwise interested in the subject matter.


This book is a part of the Ramadan Reading event happening here this month.

You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.

6 thoughts on “Children of Dust: A Portrait of a Muslim as a Young Man (Review)”

  1. I remember coming across this book at the start of this year and being intrigued by it. I’m glad that you liked this one – I’m going to check it out.

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