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The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West Hardcover – April 3, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Yes, you can laugh while having your consciousness raised. This memoir proves it.―O, The Oprah Magazine

If you read nothing else this year, discover this book.―New York Journal of Books

"...irresistible-- a charming, laugh-out-loud-funny memoir of a Pakistani Muslim boy growing up in the western world. Full of suprises, hard to put down."―John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

"...beautifully written, funny and endearing, and in its own quiet way, important."―Sue Townsend, author of the Adrian Mole books

"I could not put the book down. I laughed at Imran's memories of his childhood. I marveled at his ability to look at his stumbles with such fearless honesty and I shared his gentle, wry irritation at the unfairness of the world.
The greatness of this book is easy to understand. Read it and you will come to know Imran Ahmad as though you have spent a lifetime growing up with him. You will warm to his wonderfully self-deprecating humor and, almost incidentally, you will learn a lot about yourself and a vast amount about the complex multicultural confusion of growing up as an immigrant Pakistani Muslim in England. This is a wise and witty book about the new cultural reality of globalization."―Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

'Hurrah for a memoir that isn't miserable! Hurray for Imran Ahmad's terrific sense of humor ... an entertaining, moving and thoroughly thought-provoking tale of our times.' The Daily Mail

'A compelling quest for belonging ...' Guardian

"... very clearly and vividly written, it's funny and perceptive about schools and neighbors 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."―Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass series

"... humour makes a powerful tool when socially relevant ... successful in striking that balance, by presenting a thought-provoking debate even as it makes you laugh out loud."―The Hindu

About the Author

Imran Ahmad was born in Pakistan, grew up in London, and went to university in Scotland, before pursuing a corporate career which has taken him all over the world, including five years living in the United States. His career has been mainly in finance and information technology, which he knows little about (but apparently this isn't a problem in management consulting). In April - June 2012 he is conducting a 50-city speaking tour of the United States. Full details are on his website: www.perfect-gent.com
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455508497
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455508495
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. C. S. Weaver on April 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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This is a delightful book. Got the book from the library and loved it so much, decided I had to have a copy of my own. The author covers a very serious matter without offending any race or religion and his sense of humour is great. Everyone should read this book
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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