The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West (Review)

Book cover for "The Perfect Gentleman" by Imran Ahmad.Title: The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West

Author/Narrator: Imran Ahmad

Publication Year: 2012

Pages: 352 (audio length: 11 hours 34 minutes)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Source: Audiobook version purchased from

From the cover:

Both deliciously funny and deeply insightful, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN is a beguiling multi-layered memoir that has touched the hearts of readers all over the world. At the age of one, Imran Ahmad moved from Pakistan to London, growing up torn between his Islamic identity and his desire to embrace the West. Join Imran in his lifelong struggle against corruption and injustice, and as he grapples with some of Life’s most profound questions. What does God do exactly? Do you automatically go to Hell for following the wrong religion? How do you persuade a beautiful woman to become your girlfriend (and would driving a Jaguar XJS help?) Can you maintain a James Bond persona without the vodka, cigarettes and women – even whilst your parents are trying to arrange your marriage? Imran’s unimagined journey makes thoughtful, compelling, and downright delightful reading. With a unique style and unflinching honesty, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN addresses serious issues in an extraordinarily light way, and will leave readers both thinking deeply and laughing out loud.

I found this audiobook while browsing, and I’m happy I did. I’m going to say a few things about it, but really, I just think you should find yourself a copy and see for yourself.

The Perfect Gentleman is basically the story of what happens when a boy is raised by his immigrant parents to be “English”, but also doesn’t fit in as the same as everyone else in a lot of ways. And it’s also just the story of a boy growing up and struggling to find himself and what makes him happy. It’s universal and specific all at the same time, and it’s a great story.

I loved that the audiobook is narrated by the author. There’s something about hearing the anecdotes in the voice of the person who experienced them, and in this case, the commentary on these anecdotes is hilarious in his voice. (It’s not fair! It’s corruption! re: a beautiful baby contest is just the beginning…) And it only gets better as Imran gets older, grows up, and heads off to college – and girls.

The only big complaint I had with the book was near the end. The narration up until that point was generally straight-forward and chronological, not skipping over anything. I don’t want to spoil the reason for the jump, so I’m not going to tell you why it happens … but I will tell you that suddenly going from constant explicit storytelling to hopping over a significant chunk of time (and bypassing important events) at the end of the book like that was jarring, to say the least.

Ultimately, though, I enjoyed The Perfect Gentleman. It was fun, witty, and introspective, but not overly serious. And it’s a great snippet of the author’s life, a look into how someone else has lived and struggled to fit in. Give it a try!


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.


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