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on April 9, 2012
The few autobiographies I've read recently have been of the "dreadful childhood/angst-ridden youth/harrowing years of therapy" variety - sometimes worthy, but rarely a fun read. Imran Ahmad's is different. Transplanted from a different continent to a Britain still struggling with issues of religion and race, he is, quite simply, himself. Unpretentious, warm and funny, his account of life as the son of middle class parents starting their new lives is endearing and always positive.

His childhood and student days are described frankly and with a remarkable degree of tolerance - something he does not always receive in return. One has to read between the lines to see what life must have been like for a sensitive little boy, trying to be a good child at a time when virtue can seem an old-fashioned notion. His adolescent soul contends with the tension between his earthly desires and his spiritual obligations as we see the young Imran set off for Stirling University in Scotland.

Hoping against hope that he has been placed in a mixed hall of residence so that he may finally encounter the mystery that is woman, he is dismayed to find that he's been assigned to an all-male one, possibly in well-meant deference to his religious views. This doesn't entirely discourage his attempts to meet girls, though, as we soon learn.

I couldn't put this book down. It has done more to convince me of the goals we humans - of all religious persuasion - have in common than many a more academic book; something due almost entirely to the author's generous spirit. In a society where misfortune is always someone else's fault, we watch this young man take hold of his life in the growing knowledge that he, not fate (nor his tutors), is responsible for his success or failure. Many of my questions about Islam have been answered, but in a gentle, good-humoured way. There is no preaching and no antagonism anywhere. This book could change the way you think.

Like others, I read the book over a couple of days - and can't wait for the sequel.

Finally, I have to mention the cover; it's almost worth buying the book just for that. You have to read the book to see why it's so apt.
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on April 2, 2012
This is a terrific tale told by a superb storyteller. From the outrage of the James Bond competition onwards it is a joy, full of wit, dry observation, compassion and humanity - a book about mixed cultures that, for once, generates light rather than heat.

If you get a chance, see Imran Ahmad speak then do - the very worst that will happen is that you will be thoroughly entertained: and you might just see Islam through different eyes.
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on April 2, 2012
This is a wonderful book - by turns funny, sad and uplifting, but always wise and illuminating. It's superbly written and a deceptively easy read that's guaranteed to open minds and change opinions. Should be read by anyone with an interest in our collective future.

And do catch him live if you can - he's terrific. However, if you can't, I'm sure TED will grab him for a slot. It's only a matter of time.
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on April 29, 2012
Initially, this author got on my nerves. I was so irritated, I fired off a review before I finished it. To anyone who has read the whole thing, I sounded like a jackass. Fortunately, it's a quick read, so I can amend my error.It is charming, interesting, humane and funny.If everyone in the world was this wise,we'd all be a lot better off.
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on April 4, 2012
The writing is direct and compellingly honest in this unusual autobiography. The author comes across as likeable and humorous, yet doesn't shy away from discussing his obsessions--both material (cars, status, etc.) and philosophical (Islamic vs. Christian theology). Incidentally, I think I learned more about Islam in reading this book than any other.

Religious, materialistic, socially and politically conservative--I never thought a writer with these traits would appeal to me. But I highly recommend this title to anyone seeking a refreshingly honest portrayal of growing up a minority in late 20th-century Britain.
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on March 28, 2012
This memoir had me laughing from the first chapter. Imran really pours his heart out in this book and it is easy to tell he is completely sincere. In The Perfect Gentleman Imran shares a little bit about each year of his life, from his birth up until his late teens, skipping through later adulthood at faster pace. It easy for the reader to immerse themselves into this story and follow Imran along as he attends school and later college in London.

At times it was sad to read about the bullying and racial discrimination Imran and his family endured while living in London. Although Imran did not grow up in Pakistan, he and his family went back regularly throughout his early life to visit his extended family still living there. During these moments in the book one gets suggestive moments of what life in Pakistan may have been like. Life for Imran is mostly in London although he does speak about a few short trips to the America as a child.

I went through many emotions while reading this book especially when Imran hit his later teens and he became more set in his ways. I found this memoir very compelling, at times informative other times irritating, yet overall thoughtful and surprising. In the end the little boy who started the conversation turned into a wise and wonderful man who left me enlightened along the way.
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on May 29, 2013
My friends and I chose this for our book club. I enjoyed the writing style and the insight. As a non-Christian in the Western world I can identify with some of the treatments and sentiments. I enjoyed the book and thought it was worth the price paid for the Kindle edition.
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on November 7, 2013
A sense of humor helps us to get through the evils of racism. This is a compelling yet funny story. I highly recommend this book.

By Barbara Buxton author of A Season of Innocence
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on April 3, 2012
You might read it because you want a good laugh, for insight into religion, for insight into Islam in particular, to remember what it was like to be young and to grow and learn in a confusing world, to see the world with new eyes, or just because you want to lose yourself for a while and be in great hands. Whatever your reason (and your reason may change several times in one sitting) do read it.

He is touring the country in the near future - well worth the visit.

Quentin
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VINE VOICEon March 20, 2013
Imran Ahmad is, by all self-reported appearances, an eminently decent chap. It's hard to imagine a decenter chap, really (he is, quite possibly, THE perfect gentleman). And just when -- round about the tour of his mid-twenties -- it seems he's scaled the very heights of decency, the whirlwind tour of his next couple decades through the closing chapters of TPG reveal the decency of his early years to have been a mere false peak. Ahmad, now at 50+, is about the swellest best-intentioned guy ever. I'm not saying any of this tongue-in-cheek, by the way. IA really seems like a great guy. And I wish him all the best -- especially on his perennial quest for a soul-mate. If ever a guy deserved a like-minded gal, it's Imran Ahmad. So why only 3 stars for his memoir? Because, in my view, it's a pretty trifling memoir. True, Ahmad writes well. True, he's sometimes amusing (though I can't see what anyone finds laugh-out-loud funny about this book). True, he gives some impression of what it's like to live life at the intersection of clashing cultures. That impression, though, is a fairly shallow one and, as TPG wears on, more and more redundantly drawn out. A LOT of TPG -- especially in its second half -- is dedicated to IA's search for love and meaning. Granted, there's no end of things one might say about love and meaning. To this reader though, it felt like IA kept saying the same few things about each. What he had to say was heartfelt, earnest, and reasonable enough. It just wasn't all that compelling across the span of a 333 page memoir. That said, TPG is a very quick-reading and relatively interesting book. And I, for one, did take pleasure in spending some time, as it were, in the company of such a fine fellow. I'm not sure I'd rush out to pick up a copy of IA's next book, but I wish him very best in his future authorial endeavors, as well as on his personal journey.
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