Today, I am so excited to share a brilliant memoir that I finished in practically one day! It’s the new and wonderful, A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi.
I love a good memoir, especially when it is from a new perspective and I also love reading LGBTQ+ memoirs and this is a wonderful, beautifully written memoir, A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi. I couldn’t put it down. But first… what is it about? Here is the synopsis:
A coming of age memoir about growing up queer in a strict Muslim household.
Mohsin grew up in a poor pocket of east London, in a devout shia Muslim community. His family were close-knit and religiously conservative. From a young age, Mohsin felt different but in a home where being gay was inconceivable he also felt very alone.
Outside of home Mohsin went to a failing inner city school where gang violence was a fact of life. As he grew up life didn’t seem to offer teenage Mohsin any choices: he was disenfranchised from opportunity and isolated from his family as a closet gay Muslim.
But Mohsin had incredible drive and became the first person from his school to go to Oxford University. At university came the newfound freedom to become the man his parents never wanted him to be. But when he was confronted by his father and a witch doctor invited to ‘cure’ him Mohsin had to make a difficult choice.
Mohsin’s story takes harrowing turns but it is full of life and humour, and, ultimately, it is an inspiring story about breaking through life’s barriers.
This is a beautifully written memoir with so much heart, and a real page-turner. As soon as I started reading it, I found it hard to put back down. It gripped me from the very start and took me on a rollercoaster of a journey. It’s a story of how he grew up in East London in a devout Muslim community with a tight family unit but from a young age, he felt different in his home.
I loved reading his story, of his relationship with different members of his family to the highs – of going to Oxford and finding the freedom to become who he has always wanted to be. There are also some heartbreaking, emotional parts to read. From his families reactions to being gay, to his father inviting a doctor to ‘cure’ him, etc. Like I said, it’s incredibly moving and powerful but beautifully written.
It’s also brilliantly funny, too. From his time at university with friends, to his relationship with his brother and Uncle, and I think that just shows how much of a brilliant writer he is. You will be crying one minute and laughing the next. This is a beautiful, heart-breaking, wonderful memoir that gives a new perspective, a new insight into the world of memoir, especially LGBTQ+ memoir. It’s a story about family, faith, religion, sexuality, acceptance, and so much more. But it’s also a book that is hopeful, too. It’s a book that could and will save many lives. It is a beautifully written memoir but as Mohsin writes:
“But this story is one set in the past. I am a governor of my old school, I am a trustee of Stonewall, I am a barrister and, now, I am the author of a memoir. Why? Because what matters is not this story, not my story, but the story of whatever happens next.”
This is a memoir that will stay with me for a very long time. If you’re looking for a new memoir or even if you’re not, I urge everyone to read this important, dazzling, brilliant book. I loved it.
Have you read A Dutiful Boy? What is your favourite memoir? Let me know in the comments!