The Brain

An Outsider’s Search for Belonging in America

June 1, 2021  • Aspen Ideas to Go

Award-winning author and playwright Ayad Akhtar grapples with identity and belonging just like the protagonist in his book Homeland Elegies. “In some ways being an outsider has given me a freedom to be able to withstand and bear some of the forced outsiderness. It gives me a perspective,” he says. His fictional book, named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by the New York Times, draws from Akhtar’s personal experiences and the political climate in the United States. Through the story of an immigrant father and his son, the book responds to issues of our time like the rise of Donald Trump and the spread of Xenophobia. Akhtar talks with Washington Post book critic Ron Charles about the novel.

This discussion was part of the Winter Words author series from Aspen Words, a program of the Aspen Institute. View a video of the conversation.

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