Ayad Akhtar in Conversation with Eleanor Wachtel


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Tuesday October 13, 2020

“The weight of politics in our country had coalesced and summoned a response out of me,” said Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Pakistani American novelist, playwright and screenwriter explained of his latest work, Homeland Elegies. Is it, he wondered, possible to write a letter to America in such a time—a letter to all Americans? Judging by the acclaim for this title, the answer is Yes. The story of the son of an immigrant father who searches for belonging in post-Trump America has been called “a revelation,” “profound and provocative” and “An unflinchingly honest self-portrait by a brilliant Muslim-American writer,” and the list continues. CBC Writers and Company host, Eleanor Wachtel, speaks to Akhtar about the unflinching honesty in this partly autobiographical work; the “casino” that is American life; and the consequences of everyone becoming a storyteller in the era of social media.

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ELEANOR WACHTEL has earned a reputation as one of the world’s best literary interviewers during her 30 years as host of Writers & Company on CBC Radio. In 2011, Writers & Company won a silver medal at the prestigious New York Festivals International Radio Awards. Wachtel herself has earned numerous accolades, including nine honorary degrees, as well as being an Officer of the Order of Canada.

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AYAD AKHTAR is a novelist and playwright whose work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Akhtar is the author of American Dervish, named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012, as well as the forthcoming novel, Homeland Elegies.