Book Review #44: The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood (2021)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: The Bad Muslim Discount: A Novel
Author: Syed M. Masood
Published: 2021 (Doubleday, New York)
Pages: 360 (Hardcover)
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical, Literary, Islam, Immigrant Stories
CW: Domestic Violence, Assault, Islamophobia, Discrimination, War, Death, Nationalism
Link Here

My borrowed copy of The Bad Muslim Discount as I was reading by a man-made pond in a park

Hello! This week I finished another interesting book, and it had the coolest cover art… I honestly love the cover art despite the colorful cheesiness of it all. This book is the novel, The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood. This is the first book I have read by Masood, and I believe he is a fairly new author. I was definitely attracted to the story upon first stumbling onto this book online. And after reading this wise novel, I was a fan!

‘Yet you are not modest like a Muslim woman. Your dress betrays what is in your heart’….
She spoke sweetly, but her words had the edge of a knife. ‘And your gaze betrays what is in yours
– Syed M. Masood, The Bad Muslim Discount

The story focuses on the perspectives of the two main characters: Anwar Faris, a smart and sharp-tongued man from Pakistan who lives in San Francisco near his close-knit family, and Safwa, a young and fiery woman who grew up in war-torn Baghdad, and had a tumultuous time immigrating to the US with her domineering father. Their paths cross in San Francisco directly affecting their communities as they each tell their story. This novel examines what it is like to be an immigrant from a Muslim country in America, and the bonds formed with a tight-knit familial community united by Islam. The author also covers difficult historical and current topics of Islamophobia in America, the Muslim Ban in 2017 and America’s war-time presence in Iraq in the 2000s. For how downtrodden the story was at times, there were also more positive themes such as hope, community and love.

It isn’t enough to be right. When you raise your voice to speak, you must speak the truth, but you should speak it in the most persuasive way possible” – Syed M. Masood, The Bad Muslim Discount

Overall, I liked this one! It definitely was not the most impactful or revealing novel about the Muslim community experience in America. Honestly, it was a bit more lighthearted and not depth-filled as I thought it was going to be. The humor and conversations between characters is fantastic though, and the author’s witty writing really shines in this novel. This mostly comes from the main character’s personality, Anwar, though. But the emotion is really felt in the writing and it was a joy to read at times. I read in the bio about the author, Masood, that he also immigrated from Pakistan so I wonder how much of his experiences reflect the experiences of the main character and community in the novel.

“For Anvar and Americans like him, their election was the most important thing in the world – and maybe that was fair – but these people, who claimed to be leaders of the free world, didn’t know the world at all. They didn’t understand its nature or its size. They thought it was smaller that it was, and that they were bigger than they were” – Syed M. Masood, The Bad Muslim Discount

The only aspect I was really not a fan of were the love stories in this novel. It was super cheesy, and maybe that is just me (because I’m not into super cheesy love stories). But it was pretty cliche, and I was not a fan of how they rounded out. The romance aspect was definitely in a male perspective, which was interesting. But overall, I get how it tied the characters and some of the story together. There could have been more in-depth exploring between the characters and their relationships instead of relying mostly on small dialogue between them.

“Clocks cannot measure time. They can count seconds, minutes and hours, but those are not accurate measures of our experience of time. A day of hunger is longer than a day when you’ve eaten. How quickly time passes isn’t constant. An hour can stretch out and seem unending. A year can pass you by before you know it” – Syed M. Masood, The Bad Muslim Discount

Why should you read this book? If you’re into novels with characters with a lot of heart and wit that explore Muslim and immigrant experiences in America in a humorous and exploratory way, this is the book for you. Definitely go into this one with an open mind, and be prepared to read some difficult subject matter. But it’s worth it if you’re interested in reading more novels that explore the topic of Muslim immigrant experiences.

Have a great weekend everyone!

I give this one a 3.5 out of 5!


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