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The Invisible Hand Paperback – August 25, 2015
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Praise for The Invisible Hand
"With The Invisible Hand, Ayad Akhtar solidifies the reputation he forged with Disgraced as a first-rate writer of fierce, well-crafted dramas that employ topicality but are not limited by it.... The prime theme is pulsing and alive: when human lives become just one more commodity to be traded, blood eventually flows in the streets."--Brendan Lemon, Financial Times
"Raises probing questions about the roots of the Islamic terrorism that has rattled the world for the last decade and more."--Charles Isherwood, New York Times
"A hand-wringing, throat-clenching thriller.... [that] grabs you and won't let go."--Jesse Green, New York Magazine
"Confirms the Pakistani-American playwright as one of the theater's most original, exciting new voices.... In this tight, plot-driven thriller, Ahktar again turns hypersensitive subjects into thought-provoking and thoughtful drama. But here he also brings a grasp of money-big money-not to mention the market's unsettling connections to international politics."--Linda Winer, Newsday
"Politically provocative.... A scary (and dreadfully funny) treatise on the universality of human greed."--Marilyn Stasio, Variety
"[A] tragically contemporary thriller.... There has been precious little activity on this front since Jerry Sterner's Other People's Money and Caryl Churchill's Serious Money.... Mr. Akhtar makes up for this oversight with a vengeance."--Harry Haun, New York Observer
"[A] tense, provocative thriller about the unholy nexus of international terrorism and big bucks.... Akhtar...expertly decodes that vivid expression, 'blood money.'.... The Invisible Hand jolts along like a well-made caper flick.... But the taut plot is also a great setup for a fierce psychological match, and a useful colloquy on the American dollar as a force for good and evil.... [A] very telling, compelling play."--Misha Berson, Seattle Times
"Whip-smart and twisty.... Akhtar offers a hostage tale that balances violence, humor and geopolitical critique, never losing its edge or letting us complacently root for one side."--David Cote, Time Out New York
About the Author
Ayad Akhtar is a screenwriter, playwright, actor, and novelist. He is the author of a novel, American Dervish, and was nominated for a 2006 Independent Spirit Award for best screenplay for the film The War Within. His plays include Disgraced, produced at New York's Lincoln Center Theater in 2012 and on Broadway in 2014 and recipient of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and The Who & The What, produced at Lincoln Center Theater in 2014. He lives in New York City.
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Unlike his previous plays (Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer and is a tragedy; The Who and the What has comic elements), this play is set in Pakistan rather than in an American city. Like those other plays, the character list is small (Disgraced - 5, Who - 4, Invisible Hand - 4). At the start of the play, we meet Nick Bright, an American in his 30s who is a Citibank employee. He has educated one of his captors on how to make money by capitalizing on the inefficiency of the Pakistani potato market (actual farmer's market, not stock market). Soon, we are introduced to Bashir (20s, born in England, now works for an Imam).
Nick and Bashir go back and forth over many scenes about the politics, religion, corruption, and most significantly, the market (hence the title of the play). Both present thoughtful world views to each other (and the audience), and Mr. Akhtar takes several opportunities to educate theater-goers on a few points (he actually mentions in the aforementioned interview that great theater both "delights and instructs").
The two other characters, Dar and Imam Saleen, appear in only a few scenes. The Imam has biting words about American and Pakistan:
"So much struck me about your country. The poverty. Which I did not expect. And the fat people. But what I found truly amazing was the lawyers. Nothing happens in your country without a lawyer. No trust. In yourselves. In each other. No conduct of life a man will not break. That's what it means to be American, isn't it? Nobody's word means anything." Act I, Scene III
"The Pakistanis are not good partners. Not to you, the Americans. And not to their own people. They cannot be trusted." Act II, Scene III.