The Perfect Gentleman
a Muslim boy meets the West
The Imperfect Gentleman
on an Unimagined Journey
The Gentle Man
taking the Path Unimagined
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The Perfect Gentleman
a Muslim boy meets the West
(originally published as Unimagined)
Both deliciously funny and deeply insightful, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN is a beguiling multi-layered memoir that has touched the hearts of readers all over the world and has received a truly astonishing list of endorsements from all quarters across the political, religious, ethnic and cultural spectrums. (Some say spectra, but spectrums is also valid.)
At the age of one (and-a-half, nearly), Imran Ahmad moved from Pakistan to London, growing up torn between his Islamic identity and his desire to embrace the West.
Join Imran in his struggle against corruption and injustice, his eternal quest to be the quintessential English gentleman (The Saint), his yearning for the coolest car (Jaguar XJ-S), his desire for the perfect girlfriend (preferably brunette, but any kind considered). Can he maintain a James Bond persona without the vodka, cigarettes and women – even whilst his parents are trying to arrange his marriage? Will he really burn in Hell for all eternity if he follows the wrong religion? If you pray to God to help you pass an exam, do you still have to study for it? What are the correct protocols to follow on your wedding night?
But, as noticed by many readers, the memoir format is merely a vehicle for an expansive array of discussions encompassing: philosophy, ethics, sociology, theology, modern history, politics, personal development, racism, feminism, classism … as well as being a poignant and evocative journey through the rapidly transforming social landscape of the United Kingdom in the late twentieth century … and yet the most consistent description of this book is its effortless readability. ("Yes, you can laugh while having your consciousness raised ... this memoir proves it." O, the Oprah Magazine.)
Imran's unimagined journey makes thoughtful, compelling, and downright delightful reading. With a unique style and unflinching honesty, THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN addresses serious issues in an extraordinarily light way, and will leave readers both thinking deeply and laughing out loud.
Originally published in the UK and Australia as Unimagined; picked up by Hachette for US publication as The Perfect Gentleman (in American English, with additional material and an extended ending); now re-translated back into British English as a global edition with even more material, a new Afterword by the author and, most helpfully, some notes to explain matters peculiarly British (especially for American readers). This edition precedes the upcoming sequel, The Imperfect Gentleman, and the sequel’s sequel, The Gentle Man.
Find the book:
an astonishing breadth and depth of acclaim
Foreword by Bruce Elder of the Sydney Morning Herald
Over the past five years, in the role of reviewer of non-fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald, I have read more than one thousand books. Inevitably people query anyone's ability to read, absorb and evaluate so many books. Yet there are a couple of simple truths about such a frightening workload.
How do I read that many books? In two words: speed reading. But, more importantly, how does anyone confronted with such a daunting task know that their judgement is sound and their enthusiasms are correct?
A second simple truth: non-fiction falls into easily identifiable categories.
Category A: books which would make a good magazine article and which some bright-eyed publisher has persuaded an author to flesh out to 80-100,000 words.
Category B: books where the idea – be it a biography of a celebrity or an account of a widely publicised crime – is what the publisher wants, and, anyway, there's always a sub-editor waiting to turn tortured and tortuous prose into something approaching plain English.
Category C: books where the writing is so beautiful, lucid, imaginative and worthwhile that they rise above the pile trailing clouds of glory and making the reviewer's heart sing. This last category, I can assure you, is very small.
After a while the overworked reviewer gets a ‘nose’ for Category C. The gems sit in the mountains of dross (don't get me started on the argument about too many books being published) in the Literary Editor's office shyly saying, ‘Open me and you will be amazed.’
And so it was that, amongst another pile of books for review, I saw a photograph of a dapper child in a suit and said to myself: ‘I wonder what that is about.’
Contrary to accepted wisdom, when you've read a thousand books you can identify a ‘goodie’ after a couple of paragraphs. And the wonder of a ‘goodie’ book is that it turns a speed reader with a deadline into a ‘reading for enjoyment’ lover of literature and, instantly, you are savouring every word, laughing at the happy moments, letting the life of another person wash over you and saturate your being, marvelling at the love of language and being swept along by the sheer power and beauty of a writer determined to tell his or her story.
I still remember my experience with The Perfect Gentleman. It filled an entire day. I could not put the book down. I laughed at Imran's memories of his childhood. I marvelled 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 sense of humour 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 globalisation.
Non-fiction Literary Reviewer
Sydney Morning Herald
This journey of publication has been quite extraordinary, almost unbelievable – full of surprises, obstacles, synchronicities ... very much a Hero's Quest. You'll be amazed ...
To enjoy the full story: get yourself a tea, coffee, or whatever is your preferred liquid poison ... sit back ... relax ... and click on the image ...