A Pakistani-American engineer writes about the life of Muslims in America



4 minutes read

Haris A. Durrani is a Dominican-based Pakistani-American, who has done BS in Applied Physics and is an aspiring lawyer. He also has a passion for writing and has already penned his debut book “Technologies of the Self”. This book won him the driftless novella contest 2015 from Brain Mills Press and has become an internationally acclaimed piece of writing.

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“Technologies of the self” is a coming of age, contemporary form of fiction in which the author explicitly explains the experience of an American kid holding a hyphenated identity. According to him identity is not merely about the name, but it’s more about the experience it evokes. The story revolves around the male protagonist Jihad whose whitewashed name is Joe. The writer engages his readers in the life of Joe and how his identity shapes his life in America. The entire book is based on Joe discovering his multiple identities and reconciling with them. He explores his life as Jihad who was overshadowed by Joe after the 9/11 incident.

The author begins the book in a way that would confuse a typical book worm or reader looking for an American classic storyline. This is purely because the readers would normally expect a white protagonist but that’s not what they get. The book does not giveaway its plot in the very first glance. It takes a while for the readers to understand that the main lead is Dominican and a Muslim, oh and a Pakistani too. The story unveils itself steadily which takes people by surprise every now and then. The tale is told in such a manner so that the readers not only read about Jihad’s identity but also feel it. It’s about living his life and spiritually connecting with him.

Jihad is half Dominican and half Pakistani, Muslim by religion and lives in America. A place where if a person is not Caucasian, he is not considered an American at all. His life is affected by stereotypes and racism. Xenophobia is the threat he faced all the time. But the way he describes his journey as a hyphenated American is one that all immigrants can conform to. After 9 / 11, Islam was seen as a polemical religion entirely on the basis of an ephemeral event. The story unravels the myth that associates Islam with violence and radicalism and how Muslims continuously faced prejudice in the hands of the governing powers.

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The debut book of Haris Durrani is a succinct and insightful tale that sheds light on the experiences of a Muslim American and how he develops a relation with his roots. It also immerses its readers to not form an opinion about a character because of his ethnical background but for what he represents. The lawyer turned engineer also drew a comparison between his uncle’s Dominican origin and his Pakistani descent. He reflected on what was once his uncle’s story has now become his own. With this story, Haris calls out to all the young and modern writers and encourages them to write a human story regardless of their identity or their ethnicity.