The Fearful Lion by Almas Akhtar is the compelling life story of a second generation immigrant to the United States. It begins in the present, as Dr. Osama Ali Khan (aka Oz) celebrates his publication of a medical research paper. He reflects on the journey that brought him to that place, and the rest of the story is in flashbacks, beginning with the wedding of his parents in Pakistan. Osama has many challenges to overcome, including his battle with debilitating anxiety which began when he was a child. The story weaves in political history, most notably the elections of various presidents and 9/11, and readers of a certain age will recall the events for themselves. The portrayal of what 9/11 was like for Americans of East Asian ancestry is particularly well done.
I found the enlightening cultural references in The Fearful Lion fascinating, and I enjoyed all the fact-based politics sprinkled throughout the story. One scene made me cry, and I don’t often cry while reading a book. The quality of Almas Akhtar’s writing is a little uneven, but most of it is very good. The Fearful Lion reads so much like a memoir that it’s hard to believe it’s a work of fiction! I felt the ending wrapped up too quickly and I wanted to know what happens next. Perhaps Almas Akhtar will write a sequel.
– Donna Gielow McFarland for Readers’ Favorite
The author is deeply in tune with her characters’ mental states and is always able to convey them concisely. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close explores the personal psychological ramifications of 9/11 in far greater depth, and in comparison, Akhtar’s offering is more akin to a paint-by-numbers love story. Nevertheless, this is a captivating and imaginative narrative with a strong message that could benefit from being fleshed out further.
A thought-provoking and engaging, if somewhat scant, exploration of complex racial and mental health issues in America.
– Kirkus Reviews, Leading Book Reviewers since 1933
Almas Akhtar’s ‘The Fearful Lion’ is a captivating work of fiction and a must read for everyone in today’s political climate. It depicts the debilitating impact 9/11 had on the lives of once well-amalgamated Americans Muslims and their close friends. These relationships and friendships are tested in more ways than one and must remain strong to stand the test of time. Stereotyping and racial profiling have become rampant in American society yet again; the psychological effects of which are drastically underestimated. Immigrants, first and second-generation Americans will relate to Dr. Osama Ali Khan’s story as well as that of his maternal grandparents. The tragic events of September 11th are life-changing for him. His struggles are very real; any person of color will empathize with his plight. The story is set in Michigan with several flashbacks to Pakistan. Akhtar’s descriptions are vivid, transporting the reader back to the rich culture of the motherland. One can almost visualize the sights, hear the sounds and experience the smells associated with the festivities. The Fearful Lion is an easy read that captures the audience while combining important social issues in America’s present fabric.
– Aliya U. Zaidi, Ph.D
MSU College of Human Medicine, Adjunct Faculty
GRCC, Adjunct Faculty
The fearful lion was a beautiful story that I read in one sitting. As a woman, I found myself relating a lot to Sarah and hoped that I had respected and treated others in such an authentic, kind way. I really felt connected to all of the people in the story. It gave me a cultural perspective that was truly eye opening. Osama was wonderfully real and his pain and triumphs were palpable. I loved this book because it made me think and feel, and I only hope that I will be a better more open minded person because of it.
– Heather Holdread
Oncology Nurse Practitioner
Almas Akhtar has done a fine job building her characters through a journey of “immigrant” life. Through migration, historical and political thought, Almas is able to engage in great storytelling of Oz and his significant others and socio-political eventsthat follow. Her re-echoing the portrayal of 9/11 and what it meant from Oz’s definition of the situation was nicely done. Moreover, her handling and illustration of mental health and states of her main character was well captured and portrayed. Overall, I found this book to be an excellent exploration of the intersections of race and mental health in today’s “diverse” America. This book is filled with rich cultural discourse that immigrant families deal with on a daily basis despite diversification and multiculturalism of America. I felt the ending was a little raw. However, it may be the author’s way to keep us craving for more of her work. Thank you for giving writing about this bold subject matter. Not everyone is able to do this and are fearful to pen their thoughts.
– Arshia U. Zaidi, PhD
University of Ontario Institute of Technology,
Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Oshawa, Ontario Canada
I just finished reading – The Fearful Lion.
I really enjoyed reading it, the book was well written, and intriguing, I finished it in one read. The very relatable characters, told a Tale of a bittersweet life. I especially liked the message of Fighting through ones up and downs in a diverse life, to come out of many hardships with help and Love from friends, Professionals and family.
– Lisa Sheikh
The Fearful Lion by Almas Akhtar is a heartwarming story about true love—the sort of love that can conquer time, tragedy, and the challenges of everyday life.
Ms Akhtar has created a moving story that touches on so many aspects of daily life. As the child of an immigrant family, Oz must tackle the challenges of juggling two different cultures. Akhtar also discusses mental health issues and the way that they can affect relationships. She shows how Oz’s anxiety is something that he must conquer himself with the help and support of his family and friends. While it does drive him and Sarah apart initially, Oz’s path towards recovery and stability brings them together again.
– Red City Review, New York
The Fearful Lion was emotional and beautifully written! I enjoyed the way the characters’ emotions and struggles were depicted. This is the story of the young man Osama Ali Khan. Osama was abandoned by both of his parents and left to grow up with his grandparents. Osama struggles over the next years with his fears, especially as he deals with the changing ethnic stereotypes surrounding him. During his college years, Osama meets Sarah and they begin an easy, carefree relationship full of excitement for their future. But then the attacks on September 11 happen. And everything changes. Almas brings us her characters in a way that we get to see their joy and their struggles, as well as their faults. We get to see this Pakistani-American family’s long standing beliefs and traditions, and how they feel about the stereotypes they see. The characters deal with their confusion and fear as they are targeted by hate and misunderstanding from other people triggered by stereotypes. Throughout the story, we see how the characters face their fears in order to move forward.
– Gena Steiger for My Book Review Blog on Facebook and Goodreads
Fearful Lion is a spellbinding, enthralling, and well crafted novella written by Almas Akhter. Almas did an amazing job demonstrating the predicaments and the clash of values that first generation immigrants contend with. She has skillfully shed light on pertinent and sensitive issues like terrorism and mental health. The psychosocial dynamics of the characters are on point which makes them relatable and real.
Bravo Almas on a job well done and looking forward to reading a sequel of Fearful Lion.
– Shanila Khan, Mother/Wife/Student, University of Michigan
What an interesting read. Almas, I enjoyed your story telling. It made me want more…congrats!
– Brett Salamin, Advanced Film Teacher at Detroit Country Day Upper School
The Fearful Lion by Almas A is a short yet compelling novella. I for one, could not put it down. It gives you a taste of the culture and charisma of the main character. The author does an amazing job of connecting the reader with the character. Every emotion the character feels you feel too. When you read this you will embark on a heart wrenching journey that will leave you wanting more.
– Fatimah Zeni, Student