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Kumail Nanjiani to Star, Produce Adaptation of Ayad Akhtar’s ‘Homeland Elegies’ for FX

Kumail Nanjiani to Star, Produce Adaptation of Ayad Akhtar’s ‘Homeland Elegies’ for FX

  • The Pulitzer Prize-winning author will pen the version with Oren Moverman who is slated to direct the eight-episode limited series.

Kumail Nanjiani will star and executive produce a limited series adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ayad Akhtar’s “Homeland Elegies” for FX, the Disney-owned cable outlet. Akhtar himself will pen the adaptation with Oren Moverman who is slated to direct the eight-episode limited series. The project hails from Sight Unseen and Nimitt Mankad’s Inimitable Pictures.

Akhtar’s writing covers various themes including the American Muslim experience, religion and economics, immigration, and identity. In “Homeland Elegies,” he “incorporates elements of memoir, essay and history to explore post-9/11 America through the eyes of a Muslim and his father,” according to a review in The Guardian.

The New York Times called “Homeland Elegies” a “hybrid: part memoir, part novel.” The book’s narrator “shares the author’s name and much of his biography,” the Times says in its review of the book. “Both were born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee by parents, doctors, who were born in Pakistan. Akhtar and his narrator each attended Brown University; each has written a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and has worked in Hollywood.”

According to the Times review, “Homeland Elegies” is “presented as a novel, but often reads like a series of personal essays, each one illustrating yet another intriguing facet of the narrator’s prismatic identity. Akhtar tells stories that fracture and ramify and negate. Sometimes they’re comic. Sometimes they’re wrenchingly tragic”

The New Yorker describes Akhtar as “an obsessive autodidact, with a mind like a grappling hook for any subject that attracts his interest.” In 2015, The Economist wrote that Akhtar’s tales of assimilation “are as essential today as the work of Saul Bellow, James Farrell, and Vladimir Nabokov were in the 20th century in capturing the drama of the immigrant experience.

Named a Top 10 book by The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times, the Pakistani American’s book landed on top of President Obama’s best books of 2020. Additionally, it led the ‘Book of the Year’ selections at Publisher’s Weekly, O Magazine, Time, and The Economist.

Akhtar, 49, who was recently named president of PEN America, received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Disgraced,” which deals with Muslim-American life, 9/11, money, and identity politics.

“Homeland Elegies” is Akhtar’s second novel. His first, “American Dervish” (2012), was a coming-of-age story about a boy in a Muslim family in pre-9/11 America.

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As a playwright, he has written “Junk,” which was nominated for a Tony Award and won the Kennedy Prize for American Drama; “The Who & The What” and “The Invisible Hand,” which received an Evening Standard nomination as well as an Obie Award and an Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award.

As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for “The War Within.” Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwriting Award, the Nestroy Award, the Erwin Piscator Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a board director. He lives in New York City.

Nanjiani will next be seen in Marvel’s “Eternals,” slated for a Nov. 5 release. He is currently in production on Disney+’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series. He earned a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for writing “The Big Sick” alongside his wife, Emily V. Gordon.

“Homeland Elegies” will be the first major television lead role for Nanjiani. His prior small screen highlights include “Silicon Valley,” voicing Jesus on the animated series “Bless the Harts,” episodes of “The X-Files” and “Twilight Zone,: as well as hosting an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

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