Sarfraz Manzoor: my five best books


Sarfraz Manzoor’s latest book, Them: what Muslims and non-Muslims are wrong about each other is published by Wildfire at £ 20.

American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997)

Roth’s reputation took a hit, but I’m a huge fan, especially of the trilogy of novels, published in the 1990s, which revisits key moments in post-war American history. This novel is about a lot of things – politics, family, class – but above all it is about the dark side of the idealism of the 60s and the bitterness of the American dream. It is beautifully written with breathtakingly beautiful passages filled with wisdom and pathos. Vintage € 9.99

One on One by Craig Brown, (2011)

Craig Brown is an icy genius and I recommend this book over and over again. He talks about 101 unusual celebrity encounters that together form a garland of 20th century history: Kipling meets Twain, Twain meets Helen Keller, and so on. The result is ridiculously funny. Fourth State £ 9.99

American Dreams: Lost and Found by Studs Terkel (1980)

Terkel was an American oral historian whose books present an extraordinary array of so-called ordinary people. Here, he asks them to articulate their version of the American Dream. What emerges is a portrait of the United States in all of its conflicted and complex glory. Exhausted

Step by Step: The New York Times (2017)

This collection of New York Times articles sees writers making literary pilgrimages across the world, from Philip Roth’s Newark to Elena Ferrante’s Naples. Reading this book has been my way of traveling while being stuck at home. Trois Rivières Press € 11.99

My Song by Harry Belafonte (2011)

I had the chance to interview Belafonte a few years ago. She is an amazing person who has led an amazing life, from meeting Marlon Brando twice to the board of Martin Luther King and JFK. He has been a singer, actor and activist, but more than anything he has been an agent of hope and change. Canongate € 14.99


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