Framed as a kind of memoir-as-road-novel, Knight’s account is ostensibly about his journey to drinking ayahuasca, a psychedelic tea popular in South America. Yet, as with any good journey, the path includes numerous detours, and Knight’s side trips add depth and complexity far beyond what one might expect from the story of some guy looking to trip out. Knight, an American Muslim, places the drinking of ayahuasca in the broader context of the Islamic tradition, musing on what the Qur’an says about drug use and offering a broad, historical examination of the faith. The book is really a series of short essays about Knight’s experiences, held together by an overarching story line but without a strong linkage from chapter to chapter. Along the way, Knight self-consciously struggles with his narrative style, shifting from an academic discussion of Islamic history to casual drug conversations heavily peppered with “peace.” Yet, despite the shifting tone, Knight, who has been called “the Hunter S. Thompson of Islamic literature,” never loses his authenticity, whether he is discussing religion, sex, or drug use. --Eve Gaus
About the Author
Michael Muhammad Knight is a novelist, essayist, and journalist. He converted to Islam at 16, after reading Autobiography of Malcom X, and traveled to Islamabad at age 17 to study at a madrassa. He is the author of The Taqwacores, Impossible Man, Osama Van Halen, Journey to the End of Islam, and William S. Burroughs vs. The Qur’an. Knight lives in New York and North Carolina.