I am consistently working on broadening my reading. As an avid book reader, I have an ever-growing list of titles outside my norm that I have dedicated 2021 to tackle. My latest read by Syed M. Masood captivated my interest, traveled the world, and spanned decades. Masood grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and currently lives in Sacramento, California. He is a world traveler and his life experiences are reflected in his book, The Bad Muslim Discount.
The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood follows two families across decades. From Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s all the way to San Francisco in 2016, this novel highlights the lives of two Muslim families and their journey to the United States.
1995: Anvar Faris is growing up in Karachi, Pakistan. As the youngest son, Anvar is constantly measured against his older brother. As a result, Anvar is rebellious, restless, and constantly being scolded by his mother for his words. Closest to his grandmother, Anvar spends time with her learning how to play chess and trying to beat her. At this same time, fundamentalists in the government increasingly become louder and more forceful. Religious zealots knock on doors and the streets are more dangerous. With Islam on the rise more and more, Anvar’s family is getting worried. His father decides to move the family to California to start over. Not everyone in the family is happy with the move, but it happens nonetheless. Anvar may not have fit in 100% in Karachi, but he soon finds out that he doesn’t fit in in California. So begins Anvar’s journey to carve out a place for himself where he can be happy.
While Anvar is struggling to find himself, Safwa has problems of her own. Thousands of miles away in Baghdad, Safwa is also struggling. Her family has been rocked by tragedy. Her grief-stricken father wants Safwa to follow his conservative values, something of which she is not a fan. With nothing left to hold them at home, the two begin a dangerous trip to America that could not be more different than Anvar’s.
While Anvar and Safwa’s paths to America differ, at the core they do share similarities. Once both have made it to California, their lives begin to bring them closer together. The closer their worlds become, the more their fates and the fates of those around them intertwine. The decisions both Anvar and Safwa make set off a series of events that will destroy their community and alter their lives forever.