‘Home Boy’ is a slam-dunk for H.M. Naqvi

Carol Memmott in USA Today:

Home-boyx Genre: Contemporary fiction

What it's about: Three young Muslim men, living a carefree life in Manhattan, experience suspicion, prejudice and incarceration after 9/11.

Why it's noteworthy: A debut novel, it's an authentic and honest portrayal of what it's like to be a Muslim living in post-9/11 America.

Memorable line: “In prison, I finally got it. I understood that just as three black men were gangbangers, and three Jews a conspiracy, three Muslims had become what would be known as a 'sleeper cell.' “

Quick bio: Naqvi, 35, a citizen of Pakistan, was born in London (his father was a diplomat), raised in Algeria and Pakistan. Spent senior year of high school at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Bethesda, Md., “where I was the only brown man in the class.” Graduated from Georgetown University. Taught creative writing at Boston University. Lives in Karachi with his wife and 2-year-old son.

Fun fact: Naqvi represented Pakistan in National Poetry Slam in 1995. “One could make a case that the formal beginnings of my literary career were as a slam poet. I was quite taken by the then-smoke-filled clubs and people getting up and reading their stuff.”

Inspiration for the novel: Based in part on a slam poem Naqvi wrote after his brother was randomly visited by U.S. authorities post-9/11.

On being Muslim in America at that time: “You find yourself in the peculiar position that you are reeling from this great tragedy and then you are subsequently and consequently suspected of being somehow part and parcel of it.”

Most admired authors: Graham Greene, V.S. Naipaul, J.M. Coetzee. “These are three writers that I read again and again.”

On his fall reading list: Émigré Journeys by Abdullah Hussein. “He's the greatest living writer of Urdu prose, and this was his first novel in English. It's kind of exciting to read a novel by somebody who figured he'd write a novel in English in his 80s.”