Unimagined: A Muslim Boy Meets the West

by Imran Ahmad | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 1845132289 Global Overview for this book
Registered by LyzzyBee of Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on 1/9/2009
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10 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by LyzzyBee from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Friday, January 09, 2009
Kindly sent to me by the author. He is keen to see the book promoted around the world and is enthusiastic about BookCrossing's ability to do this. I read this book back in December 2007 and post my review below. In fact Imran picked up on this and put a link to my review on his web page - hooray!

Bought 18 Aug 2007 read Dec 2007

A memoir of growing up Pakistani Muslim in London in the 1970s and 80s, this had echoes of both Andrew Collins' "Where Did It All Go Right" etc and Adrian Mole (there's a quote from Sue Townsend on the front). Like the former, and unlike the latter, it's non-fiction, so the hand that shaped it had to work with real events, and sometimes these seemed a little random and unfocussed. However, it was both entertaining, and a useful description of the mullings of a young man getting accustomed to his own religion (so much is taken for granted that he only learns he doesn't eat pork for religious reasons when round at a white classmate's house) and the conflict between Islam and Christianity.

Written in a deadpan style, this seems sometimes to undermine slightly the importance of these latter sentiments and musings - it was only on reflection after finishing it that I realised what a useful insight into the mind of a moderate Muslim this was. There is an emphasis on respect, of oneself and others, and moderation, an explanation of where some of the more hardline Islamist ideas come from, and a reassurance maybe for those who haven't had access to this kind of viewpoint in their immediate circle.

I'd like to see an update, and am pleased to see that the author has put a lot of effort into meeting readers and promoting his book himself (see www.unimagined.co.uk )

I will be offering this book on a BookRay, hopefully to go to the US as well as other parts of the world.

It's a small light hardback so will be robust enough to survive its journey but light enough so it doesn't cost too much to send!

Journal Entry 2 by LyzzyBee from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Saturday, January 10, 2009
Book Ring!

This book is going on its travels! Please go by the basic rules or let me know if you have a delay or difficulty...

1. Journal the book when you receive it.
2. PM the next person and make a note that you've done so.
3. Read and review the book, preferably within 4 weeks of receiving it.
4. Mail the book to the next person. PLEASE put on a JE or release note when you've done this.


Scotsbookie UK (anywhere)
Gingergeoff UK (anywhere)
PeaMartian UK (UK)
Squirk UK (anywhere)
Iojima France (anywhere)
Chich France (anywhere)
Rapturina Netherlands (anywhere)
Okyrhoe Greece (anywhere)
Bug2004 US-NE (US only)<---- it's here!

Bookray so Bug2004 please pass it along around the US!

Released 11 yrs ago (1/17/2009 UTC) at Controlled Release, --by post or by hand (ie ring, ray, RABCK, trade) -- Controlled Releases



Posting to Scotsbookie today.

Journal Entry 4 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Thursday, January 22, 2009
Thank you LyzzyBee! I'm really looking forward to reading this, just one ring/ray ahead of it, so I should get to it soon.

Journal Entry 5 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Monday, February 02, 2009
A great read. I felt as if the author was sitting with me telling me his life story rather than reading a book. Written with wit & humour nevertheless the book deals with very impoetant issues to do with race & religion. I particularly enjoyed the time Imran spent at Stirling University, as my brother studied there & their time periods overlap & I know the campus very well too.

I'll get this on its way to Gingergeoff asap.

Journal Entry 6 by scotsbookie at By mail, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Released 11 yrs ago (2/4/2009 UTC) at By mail, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases




Journal Entry 7 by gingergeoff from Swindon, Wiltshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Sorry Scotsbookie, I did receive this on Friday, but forgot to journal it.

It came just in time and I started it straight away - already half way through!

Journal Entry 8 by gingergeoff from Swindon, Wiltshire United Kingdom on Monday, February 16, 2009
Not sure how I felt about this book really. I can see that Imran suffered a lot of racial abuse during the 70's and 80's, and it is hard to imagine today how accepted this was back then. I was interested to see how, once Imran was accepted into his peer group, the names he was called by featured much less about his race and much more about his personality.

In my opinion, the abuse he suffered at school from the other children would have happened regardless of his colour. I personnally did not enjoy my school days because of the name-calling and physical abuse suffered due to my hair colour and the way I walk. Kids are cruel. That having been said, adults have a choice and it is sad that it has taken so long for things to change.

The latter half of the book was good, I could identify with the battle between having to study and wishing not to. Also the way Imran 'got lucky' in his mock exams compared with the real thing really hit home!

I look forward to the Unconvention to hear Imran speak about this book in greater depth perhaps.

Released 11 yrs ago (2/16/2009 UTC) at Grahamstown in A bookcrosser , -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom



Sent to PeaMartian as she is next on the list.

Journal Entry 10 by PeaMartian from Durham, County Durham United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Received with thanks! Looking forward to it...

Journal Entry 11 by PeaMartian from Durham, County Durham United Kingdom on Friday, April 10, 2009
This book made me laugh out loud a couple of time - I got on well with the deadpan writing style, and recognise the situations Imran found himself in as both an undergrad and a postgrad student. This latter part of the book was more engaging for me than the earlier section focused on his younger days. I also feel like I have learnt a lot about religion and faith (muslim, catholic and evangelical christian) - the straightforward way Imran decribes his own introductions to these subjects helped me to get a better understanding.

I agree with Lyzzybee that I would like to see an update in the future...

I have PM'd the next person on the list and will post the book on when I have an address...

Journal Entry 12 by PeaMartian from Durham, County Durham United Kingdom on Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Posted on to Squirk today...

Journal Entry 13 by squirk from West Norwood, Greater London United Kingdom on Monday, April 20, 2009
The book has arrived safely. It's my next book to read. Thank you!

Journal Entry 14 by squirk from West Norwood, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, May 30, 2009
This was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting story. I have to thank the author for his insight into various things, especially that of Christianity, which I grew up with, but to which I didn't think that much about. I found the historical detail quite fascinating, too, about the hardships his parents faced and the background to Pakistan and India. The growing up years brought several inward groans from my memory - I think most people will be able to relate to one or two of the stories in there.

Thanks to LyzzyBee for the opportunity to read this book. It has flown to Iojima today.

Journal Entry 15 by Iojima from Nyons, Rhône-Alpes France on Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Arrived today, just as I finished my previous book. Ooooh, just started to read. Love the book mark, Squirk!

Journal Entry 16 by Iojima from Nyons, Rhône-Alpes France on Monday, June 08, 2009
Funny and instructive. (Gingergeoff, you've probably never been refused a bank loan because you have red hair.) Highly recommended. Thank you so much, LyzzyBee. Off, next, to Chich.

Journal Entry 17 by chich from Sant Antoni de Portmany, Illes Balears/Islas Baleares Spain on Thursday, June 11, 2009
Image hosting by Photobucket Book received today, thanks for passing it on Iojima!

Thanks for for starting this ring LyzzyBee, I'll finish the book I'm reading right now and will get right on to this one:o)

Journal Entry 18 by chich from Sant Antoni de Portmany, Illes Balears/Islas Baleares Spain on Wednesday, June 24, 2009
What a fantastic read! I just loved everything about it: the style, the wit and the very important issues that were dealt with throughout the book. As LyzzyBee already pointed out, the book offers very interesting insight on both Islam and Christianity. The short paragraphs and randomness of the first chapters are a bit unsettling at first but its gets better as the pages are turned and one is drawn into the story:)

My only regret: I just found out that this book hadn't been translated into French. It's a shame as I'd already thought of a few people I wanted to offer this book to!

Thanks again for sharing this great read Lyzzybee! This is definitely one of the best books I've read in 2009:o)

Journal Entry 19 by chich from Sant Antoni de Portmany, Illes Balears/Islas Baleares Spain on Monday, June 29, 2009
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Book sent to rapturina today, enjoy!

Journal Entry 20 by rapturina from Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Thursday, July 02, 2009
It's here! I'm really looking forward to reading this, everyone is so enthusiastic about this book! I'm right in the middle of another book now, but it won't take me long to get to this one. :D

Journal Entry 21 by rapturina from Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Saturday, July 25, 2009
I finished this a while ago already, but hadn't gotten around to writing an entry. I really enjoyed this book, though it took me a while to get used to the author. I didn't really like at first how he was trying really hard to come across as an honourable and righteous person, but after a while I got used to it. Like getting to know a new person and after a while you realize what they're like and you learn to live with it, I suppose. :D Anyway, an enjoyable read and an interesting story. I'd be interested in a sequel describing his experiences in the States!

Sent on to okyrhoe this morning.

Journal Entry 22 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Bookring has arrived in Athens. Thanks LyzzyBee for including me in the ring, and rapturina for posting the book to me.

Woohoo - the book is signed by the author!

Journal Entry 23 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thanks for sharing this book!

I liked the organization of the memoir, titled by theme, and then the age & dates at the bottom of each page as a quick reference.

Some remarks --->

1. The young boy interprets the aggressive racist behavior as inevitable even though it greaty angers him personally. It's true that kids can be bullied and harrassed at school, regardless of their background, and part of growing up is learning to deal with it. The young Imran though witnesses his own mother at the edge of a nervous breakdown because of similar behaviour by the adult segment of society, and that’s what is/was the root of the problem.
The facts about his mother are but briefly mentioned; I wanted to know more, especially whether Imran’s parents do eventually come to feel 'at home' after all these years in Britain.

2. I thought it was very poignant that the narrator's only reference for learning to be a adult male is via larger-than-life t.v. & film characters. It's funny to see how his infatuation with his English teacher never evolves; it is merely transposed onto another female (his fellow college student). And the exasperation at the girl choosing an 'immature' boyfriend rather than a proper guy is right on the mark!
I spent some time thinking about this. It’s obvious to the reader that appropriate role models are lacking within the Pakistani familial & social environment, making it difficult for Imran to learn how to socialize 'normally' with the other sex. Or maybe it was simply that he was the eldest, and lacked an older brother that he could mimic and/or be advised by. Or even worse, that no socializing is meant to take place btwn young people of the opposite sex before marriage.
It also seems as if within Pakistani culture the concept of 'teenage years' is absent; one apparently goes straight from childhood into adulthood, and there is no period where goofing off & experimenting with one's roles & identity is taken for granted.

3. The theological debate: I found it all rather funny, mainly because of its futility.
FYI, I grew up in an exact reverse situation: as a European child & teen living in several Middle Eastern countries, so that many memories of my own that parallel the author's.
I remember at age 4 or thereabouts, in Damascus, coming home one day after playing with the neighborhood kids, eager to show my mother I'd learned something important. I took two bath towels, laid one down, covered my head with the other, knelt and lowered my head to the ground, and like Imran, mumbled gibberish Arabic prayers. My mother had a fit, but I so much wanted to do the proper thing!
Fortunately my father raised us agnostic, and I was spared the internal turmoil of trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of religious faith vis a vis credibility (or, as Imran calls it, 'being scientific').
Despite my personal lack of interest in the subject, the matter of religious background remained a barrier, especially during my university years in Beirut. The student population was a diverse one; however the underlying understanding was such that men & women of different faiths stuck to their own kind.
Of course, being in a minority, it was only natural that I'd be attracted to the 'other' kind, for both practical and personal reasons... being a non-believer was more often than not a worse thing to be than a person of a different faith.

4. The Jimmy Swaggart story: It reminded me of a particular incident from my years in Lebanon.
The country, even during the difficult years of the civil war (caused by sectarian strife, no less), was the field of operations for missionary expeditions from various Christian denominations originating in the United States and in Europe, hoping to covert the 'locals' (whether these 'locals' were already Christian didn't matter one bit!).
Several educational institutions in the country were founded by missionaries, and a number of the teachers & professors at these schools doubled as ministers. During one particularly difficult period during the civil war, the evacuation of all US nationals was mandated. The personal belongings left behind by the departing families were given to charity, and I was assisting one of the charities to sort out the goods. Amongst the many items I recognized some belonging to an American family I knew personally. The father was one of the missionary-teachers. Amongst the minister's books left behind, besides the theological and religious texts, we found a sizable collection of erotica. Fortunately it wasn't porn, but the fiction books, as I found out later, turned out to be a very eclectic vintage collection and must have cost a fortune. [What did we do with the smut? We tore up each individual book, something that I regret to this day ;-o ]


On its way to Bug2004.

Journal Entry 24 by Bug2004 from Omaha, Nebraska USA on Sunday, August 30, 2009
Arrived safely this weekend.

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