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a Muslim boy meets the West
THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN

 

Selected in ‘Best Books of the Year’ lists of:

Guardian

Independent

Sydney Morning Herald

Belfast Telegraph

 

‘Yes, you can laugh while having your consciousness raised; this Pakistani immigrant’s memoir of aspiring to be the ideal Englishman proves it.’

O, The Oprah Magazine  (No 1 in ‘10 Titles to Pick Up Now’)

 

‘Imran Ahmad’s light touch and sense of humanity displayed so skilfully in The Perfect Gentleman ensures that his words have a deeper meaning and a wider application … If you read nothing else this year, discover this book.’

New York Journal of Books

 

‘A feminist and a peacemaker … impatient for the sequel.’

Maclean’s magazine, Canada

 

‘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 …’

The Guardian

 

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

 

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

Billingsgate Book Club, Sydney, Australia

 

 

Acclaim for The Perfect Gentleman /Unimagined

 

The best books of the year – The Independent

Books of the year– The Guardian

The pick of the literary crop – Sydney Morning Herald

Best books of the year– Belfast Telegraph

Paperback of the week – The Guardian

Shortlisted for the YoungMinds Book Award

Best non-fiction read of the year– dovegreyreader

Number 1 Bestseller at Byron Bay Writers’ Festival

Ranked number 11 at Sydney Writers’ Festival

 

 

‘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

 

 

‘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 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 – a successful memoir depends just as much on art as a successful novel does.’

Philip Pullman – author of ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy

 

 

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

 

 

‘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

 

 

‘… endearing … unexpectedly subtle and touching …’

Nicholas Lezard – The Guardian

 

 

‘ ... wonderfully funny, heart-warming, perceptive, enlightening and ironic ... 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 fascinating insight ...’

Sydney Morning Herald

 

 

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

Canberra Times

 

 

‘Forthright, wry, entirely enjoyable … A scrupulously well intentioned look at how Christians and Muslims might live respectfully side by side.’

Kirkus Reviews

 

 

‘Occasionally, booksellers come upon a title which they believe is a defining moment in their trade.’ Clive Keeble – Bookseller, Langport, Somerset

 

 

‘… exceptionally well-balanced … a part-funny, part-serious book and it works like a dream … had me enthralled … very good indeed.’

Lynne Hatwell – dovegreyreader

 

 

‘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 …’

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 it is 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.’

Wendy Were – Creative 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 in Sydney and he 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.’

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

 

 

‘I met Imran at UWRF 2008 in Bali and invited him to Byron Bay; 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 … Although our programme for Emirates Literary Festival 2010 was closed,  I am so glad I went with my gut instinct… copies of Unimagined sold out.’

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 – former 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 Journalist and 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 second-hand 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 – broadcaster, writer, reviewer

 

 

‘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, Waterstones; publisher, editor

 

 

‘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 – journalist, writer

 

 

‘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, social activist

 

 

‘... 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

 

 

‘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 – writer, journalist, broadcaster

 

 

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.’

Clare Christian – former 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 humour, 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

 

 

‘... a wonderful book and Imran is a gracious, poignant, and engaging speaker. Everyone who came to hear him speak at Unity Temple was mesmerized by his stories, wit, and humility. Those who have read his book have greatly enjoyed his creatively written memoir. His personal mission of seeking to re-humanize both Christians and Muslims will surely lead him to an ever wider audience.’

Rev Alan C Taylor – Senior Minister, Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Chicago, Illinois

 

 

‘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 were able to take him books, so I ordered a copy of Unimagined for him, and he really, really enjoyed it.’

Email from Louise, Idaho

 

 

‘Imran’s book is so refreshing.’  

[Addressing audience at Perth Writers’ Festival, Australia]

James McBride – author of ‘The Color of Water’

 

 

Unimagined is a delightful story … gentle, very funny, and quietly assertive. It could not be more refreshing or timely.’

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.’

New Books magazine

 

 

‘… 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

 

 

‘I do strongly recommend reading this, or even buying someone a copy as a Christmas present –  it's a really great read!’

Being Mrs C

 

 

‘… 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

 

 

 

‘This book was so crap. I can’t believe anyone gave it anymore then one star. No redeeming features.’

Kevin Tanner, Sydney – Review on Goodreads

 

‘Crap. No talent and does not come across as a good person. Can’t believe people actually rate it.’

Kevin Tanner, Sydney – Another review on Goodreads

 

‘How can anyone give this shite four stars!’

Kevin Tanner, Sydney – Comment on Goodreads

 

 

 

‘A must read if you're looking for a book you won't be able to put down and are sad at the end because you wish it were a few hundred pages longer.’

The Baker Project

 

 

‘[this] book is just so wonderful!’

Deborah Harper – Psychjourney

 

 

‘…humorous and heartwarming … more remarkable is its authenticity.’

Austrolabe, Australia

 

 

‘… [a] funny account of growing up as a Muslim …’

Panel Selection in Bookseller’s Choice

 

 

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

Saudi Gazette

 

 

‘… poignant and often hilarious … went down a storm at the Edinburgh International Book Festival … will keep his audience in stitches.’

The Morley Observer

 

 

‘… 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.’

The Glasgow Herald

 

 

‘… an insightful and humorous memoir. The author handles issues such as racism in deft prose and with deadpan humour … paints a deeply emotional picture of a boy grappling with two different cultures and struggling to fit in. The reader can identify with the child’s experiences, laugh at his faux pas and marvel at his honesty … Ahmad keeps his writing style deliberately simple, and the self-deprecating humour in the book makes it an entertaining read.’

The Telegraph, India

 

 

‘… 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

 

 

‘... 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

 

 

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

 

 

‘… a fluffy read of no real consequence.’          

Alan Baxter – writer of dark horror fiction, Kung Fu instructor

 

 

‘… extremely readable and thought-provoking … honest, direct, funny, sensitive … his writing showcases his personality and emotions. The prose is beautiful … Highly recommended.’

BOOK-A-HOLICS

 

 

‘Its subtle imagery leaves a lasting imprint.’

Afrah Jamal – Think Before You Ink

 

 

The Perfect Gentleman is a memoir worth reading, not only for its humour, but also because it makes one sit up and think.’

Newsline Magazine

 

 

‘Packed with self-deprecating humor and charming witticisms … a poignantly honest and intimate memoir recounting his early struggles with race, religion, and relationships … heartfelt revelations about the nature of faith and individuality … an enjoyable and hilarious Bildungsroman.’

Publishers Weekly

 

 

‘I love that Ahmad is completely honest and doesn’t shy away from writing about his doubts … This isn’t a somber story of his tale of woe, mind you. Quite the opposite! The biggest reason why this book works is because of Imran Ahmad’s personality. He comes across as incredibly down to earth and moral while still being funny and lighthearted. The reader can tell that even at a young age, Ahmad has always wanted to do the right thing and could see through any hypocrisy that he witnessed.’

Bushra Burney – Caffeinated Muslim

 

 

‘Poignant and thought provoking – a roller-coaster ride of emotional consciousness.’

Autumn Blues Reviews

 

 

‘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

 

 

‘Kindness, gentleness, and good humor win the day in The Perfect Gentleman.’

Unitarian Universalist Examiner

 

 

‘As a reader, I felt like I was witnessing my own growth … And that’s one of the best things about this book. The reader – any reader – can relate to Ahmad’s childhood, adolescence, and first steps into adulthood. With a unique voice, Ahmad speaks of universal feelings.

The Mookse and the Gripes

 

 

‘… a thought-provoking book which can be read on many levels … 10/10

The Review Girl

 

 

‘…[a] delightful coming-of-age story that highlights the extraordinary depths of a most ordinary life … a dry, self-deprecating humour that layers every situation with multiple ironies and exploits fantastic comic potential in even the most sobering situations … weaving in the social, educational, political, economic and cultural ethos of a Britain that was coming of age with respect to its immigrant situation … a refreshingly upfront memoir … Ahmad’s search for his identity is without guile and agenda.  It is a rare read, both entertaining and educational, and hence qualifies as a memoir in the truest sense of the word.’

DNA India

 

 

‘… one of the most interesting social commentaries in the guise of a memoir I’ve ever read … His observations … are fascinating … very heavy material is explored within a mostly lightweight framework and it seamlessly flows in, out, and through more mundane and secular elements of everyday life … effortlessly humorous, never breaking a sweat while revealing humor in everyday events and situations … an amazingly easy read, yet is as thoughtful and provocative a book as I have read in recent memory.’

 Bruce Cline

 

 

‘Just couldn’t get interested in this fellow’s life.’

Margaret Bryant – publishing industry expert

 

 

‘May be one of the sweetest voices in non-fiction I’ve ever read.’

Jill Sevelow

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

‘Some of his writing shows a real sense of style.’

 

School report for Imran Ahmad – 1977

Martyn Payne

English Teacher

Hampton (Grammar) School

 

(Thank you, sir!)

 

 

 


 

 

Home.
BOOK.
ACCLAIM.
Bio.
Testimonials.
USA.
Adventures.
Video/Audio.
Contact & Speaking.