American Taliban

“Abraham’s bottomless imagination has created a riveting and revealing intellectual page-turner for our brave new world.” -Gary Shteyngart, author of SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY… to purchase click here.

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Critically acclaimed author Pearl Abraham follows a young surfer/skater on a distinctly American spiritual journey that begins with Transcendentalism and countercultural impulses, enters into world mysticism, and finds its destination in Islam.

An avid, near six-foot-tall surfer, John Jude Parish cuts a striking figure on the beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. When he isn’t on water, John lives on wheels, a self-described skate rat-grinding and kickflipping with his friends, and encouraged by his progressive parents. His hero is the great explorer, Richard Burton, his personal prophet is Bob Dylan, and his world is wide open — to new ideas, philosophies, and religions.

Through online forums and chat rooms, John meets a young woman from Brooklyn who spurs his interest in Islam and Arab literature. Deferring Brown University for a year, he moves to New York’s idyllic borough to study Arabic. Like Burton, John embraces the experience heart, body, and soul — to submit to Islam, practice the salaat, fast and meditate, dance with dervishes, and encounter the extraordinary. Burton lived the life of a 19th century adventurer, but he also penetrated the ancient wisdom of secret worlds. John will too — with unforeseen consequences.

Perched on the eve of September 11th, in the first year of the 21st century, American Taliban gives voice to the historical echoes that reveal the unknowable other as entirely familiar, even homegrown.

One of our most daring novelists, Pearl Abraham uses her gifts of psychological acuity and uncommon empathy to depict a typical upper-middle-class family snared by the forces of history, politics, and faith. Provocative, unsettling, and written in a brilliantly inventive refreshingly original voice, American Taliban is poised to become one of the most talked about novels of the year.

“A riveting and revealing novel. Pearl Abraham’s bottomless imagination has created an intellectual page-turner for our brave new world.”
— Gary Shteyngart, author of SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY

“As her unlikely hero John Jude Parish surfs, grinds and prays his way to ecstatic becoming, Pearl Abraham transforms the imperiled American novel into something intellectually bold and morally urgent. A virtuoso performance.”
— Stephanie Grant

“It is a rare delight to be given a novel that actually makes you think. Rarer still to have a book utterly rip open your heart. AMERICAN TALIBAN is that rarest of accomplishments, one that does both at the same time.”
— Charles Bock, author of BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN

“In her new novel Pearl Abraham offers a wonderfully intimate portrait of how a more or less ordinary American boy might be seduced by the idea of submitting to Islam. The stages of John’s journey, and the many Muslims he meets along the way, are evoked in such vivid and persuasive detail that I felt I too was learning about the ancient wisdom of this complex culture.”
— Margot Livesey

“A novel like this encourages the reader to pay attention to the world and to ponder complex issues.” — Bookpage

“The author has taken a complex and volatile subject and brought it to a human scale, without compromising or trivializing the global importance of the issues raised. An incredible achievement; highly recommended.” —Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs

“It’s a heart- and mind provoking tale that Abraham, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew, has fashioned with nerve, verve, and righteous vigor.” -Lisa Shea for Elle

“Abraham’s breathless, exhilarating style matches the timely subject matter as she grapples with the question of how a search for truth might lead a normal American kid into the jaws of the sworn enemies of his homeland.” –Village Voice

“The book is excellent—considered, magnetic, surprising.” -Publishers Weekly

“Consensus: Abraham covers a very volatile subject with grace and feeling.” –Lit Review

“Her thoughtful approach to the characters and honest appraisal of the events make what could have been merely provocative into a challenging and effective novel…. “American Taliban” should be a must-read for anyone interested in current events.” – Lauren Bufferd

“Abraham’s riveting fourth novel shows how the unthinkable can happen when a young American dreamer becomes a fanatic…This nuanced portrait of a homegrown terrorist goes far beyond the headline evoked by its title to explore the imperatives of love, the lure of exotic adventure and the rocky terrain of faith.” – MORE magazine

“John Jude, Pearl Abraham’s marvelously construed 21st century all-American boy, more than delivers.”  The Oregonian

“The story’s powerful conclusion pulls us all the way into [Barbara’s] denial and anguish as she comes to terms with her son’s fate.”  San Francisco Chronicle

“Because the roles of Bill, and especially Barbara, are such a subtle context in the novel, it’s easy to initially see the ending as evidence that Abraham couldn’t think of a way to wrap up her story.  But on reflection, the conclusion seems much more like an act that’s both unsettling and a gesture of real empathy.”  The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Abraham has written an unsettling novel sure to be argued over by book clubs this spring.  [It’s] a timely and important book, urging us to consider our preconceptions about Islamic fundamentalism, and the narrowness and the self-abnegation many of us suppose to be a hallmark of religious devotion.”  The Daily Beast

“Pearl Abraham has crafted a work that grips at one’s heart like talons. Her ability to represent points of view as diverse as a DC lawyer’s and a Pashtun tribesman’s are remarkable.” Sacramento Book Review

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