Review: Unimagined – Imran Ahmad

At a time when the only media references to Moslems seem to be negative, it is refreshing to read Unimagined, an amusing account of a Pakistani boy growing up in London and dealing with life as an immigrant.  Other readers have suggested that this book bears comparison with Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole, but this is largely because like Adrian, Asad recounts his journey through adolescence during which he falls in love with various unattainable girls and suffers the usual episodes of teenage angst. Asad was a serious little boy who struggled to understand why he was “different” to his English-born friends, and he writes touchingly of the sticks and stones that came his way at school and in the neighbourhood he lived in.

His parents began their London life in a single-room, but over the years, his father rises up through the airport industry and conditions improve to the point where the family have a car and go on holidays together. Imran eventually goes on to grammar school and eventually to University and becomes quite a success in his own right. On the way we learn of his struggles with religious differences (while as school and college he comes up against Christians (who try to convert him to their faith), and his own faithfulness to a tolerant and inwardly rewarding Islam which seems to bear little relationship to the fundamentalism which is so much reported today.

The book is witty in an unself-conscious way, Imram simply recounting things that happen to him in short episodes, often not much more than a couple of pages each. It is easy to read, to pick up and put down, and I found myself racing through it, to be left with a greater understanding of what it is to be an ordinary Muslim in Britain today.

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