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No Land's Man (2014)

af Aasif Mandvi

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1165184,592 (3.54)1
"If you're an Indo-Muslim-British-American actor who has spent more time in bars than mosques over the past few decades, turns out it's a little tough to explain who you are or where you are from. In No Land's Man Aasif Mandvi explores this and other conundrums through stories about his family, ambition, desire, and culture that range from dealing with his brunch-obsessed father, to being a high-school-age Michael Jackson impersonator, to joining a Bible study group in order to seduce a nice Christian girl, to improbably becoming America's favorite Muslim/Indian/Arab/Brown/Doctor correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. This is a book filled with passion, discovery, and humor. Mandvi hilariously and poignantly describes a journey that will resonate with anyone who has had to navigate his or her way in the murky space between lands. Or anyone who really loves brunch."… (mere)
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Viser 5 af 5
More Interesting in the Aspiring Actor portions in the last half
Review of the Audible Audio edition (2014) of the original Chronicle Books hardcover (2014)

[3.5]
I first heard of Aasif Mandvi from the recent Audible Original recording of the 2018 revival of his one-man play Sakina's Restaurant (1998). I've also enjoy him as the sceptical myth-buster in the exorcism team of the current TV show Evil (2019-). Audible listed his memoir No Land's Man (2014) as one of its Black Friday Week sales offers and I grabbed it up.

The front half is mostly your stereotypical fish out of water tales, boys at boarding schools, youthful lust stories, etc. The last half was more interesting with Mandvi's stories of his struggling actor days, his breakthrough with the original run of Sakina's Restaurant, being recruited for the lead in Ismail Merchant's film The Mystical Masseur(2001) and his hiring and early years on The Daily Show (which I don't see here in Canada).

Mandvi's own narration was excellent, although a bit over the top in the youthful exploits sections, which he admits in the afterword were partially fictionalized for comedic effect. ( )
  alanteder | Dec 3, 2019 |
Looking at a life of someone growing up and being bullied in both England and the States as a child, finally making his way as an actor and comedian. ( )
  quiBee | Jan 21, 2016 |
[Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (cclapcenter.com). I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.]

There's not a lot to say about Aasif Mandvi's short and sharp memoir No Land's Man, but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading; in fact, I found this one of the more delightful short books I've read in recent months, a disarming and always humorous look at one Indian immigrant's journey from the subcontinent to England and eventually America, informed and influenced by Gen-X pop-culture the entire way. For those who only know Mandvi as one of the smartest contributors to Comedy Central's The Daily Show, they might be surprised to know that he has an equal amount of experience in the arts delving into drama and intellectualism, with his one-man play Sakina's Restaurant eventually turned into the successful indie film Today's Special, and with Mandvi taking various parts over the years in plays by Tom Stoppard, Tony Kushner and more; and both of these sides of this talented writer and performer are on display in this small but engaging new book, a self-deprecating yet earnest look at Mandvi's youth as a picked-on Indian nerd in a working-class British town, before his family's random move to Tampa, Florida and his '80s dreams of American success as defined through bad television. (One of the funniest chapters here is how Mandvi aspired as a youth to become the next Fonzie, insisting that his parents call him "The Monz" until his mother finally revolted, passionately lecturing him on the superior acting skills of Omar Sharif over Henry Winkler.) A fast and entertaining read that should take most people no more than a day or two to finish, this comes strongly recommended to both comedy fans and those interested in first-hand looks at the American immigration experience, as well as anyone else looking for a sweet, funny story about nerdom and outsider culture.

Out of 10: 9.3 ( )
  jasonpettus | Jan 26, 2015 |
My blog post about this book is at this link. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Dec 11, 2014 |
Aasif Mandvi is probably most familiar to you as the Senior Muslim Correspondent on The Daily Show. At least that’s how he was most familiar to me. In listening to this book, I discovered that he had a very successful career before The Daily Show, including winning an Obie for his one-man show Sakina’s Restaurant.

No Land’s Man is not a humor book per se. It’s a collection of stories from Aasif’s life. Some are definitely funny but some are heartbreaking as well, like the one from his time at an English boarding school. He is a very talented writer and is capable of inspiring a wide gamut of emotions from the listener. The boarding school story almost made me cry. I think the story about starring in a film directed by Ismail Merchant frustrated me as much as it did Aasif. And the story about crashing Brooke Shields’ party made me laugh out loud.

The title No Land’s Man comes from the fact that Aasif was born in India, moved to England as a baby and then immigrated with his family to Florida as a teenager. The overriding theme is about Aasif’s search for identity given his wide experience with different cultures. A side note – I was unaware of how much racism brown people experience in England. That part of Aasif’s childhood was definitely hard.
Now you are wondering, what about The Daily Show? Does he mention that? Yes, he does. He talks about his path to becoming a regular on The Daily Show and the effect it had on both him and the wider American Muslim community.

Aasif narrates his book himself, a wise choice. It’s the same tone he uses on The Daily Show. A little loud and staccato but it works. This is a great book to learn more about Aasif and about what a brown person must go through to become a successful actor in America. At around four and half hours it’s a quick listen and definitely worth your time. ( )
  mcelhra | Dec 3, 2014 |
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"If you're an Indo-Muslim-British-American actor who has spent more time in bars than mosques over the past few decades, turns out it's a little tough to explain who you are or where you are from. In No Land's Man Aasif Mandvi explores this and other conundrums through stories about his family, ambition, desire, and culture that range from dealing with his brunch-obsessed father, to being a high-school-age Michael Jackson impersonator, to joining a Bible study group in order to seduce a nice Christian girl, to improbably becoming America's favorite Muslim/Indian/Arab/Brown/Doctor correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. This is a book filled with passion, discovery, and humor. Mandvi hilariously and poignantly describes a journey that will resonate with anyone who has had to navigate his or her way in the murky space between lands. Or anyone who really loves brunch."

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