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No Land's Man

A Perilous Journey through Romance, Islam, and Brunch
Narrated by: Aasif Mandvi
Length: 4 hrs and 23 mins
4 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Editor reviews

Editors Select, November 2014 - After years of watching him bait crooked politicians and naïve bigots into falling over their own stupidity and ignorance, I knew Aasif Mandvi as the hilariously deadpan "Senior Middle East/Muslim/All-Things-Brown Correspondent" on The Daily Show. So, when I got the opportunity to listen to his new memoir No Land's Man, I was sure it would be an entertaining experience. And while this held true and I found myself consistently laughing out loud at passages, what really surprised me was how unique his story is and how well he tells it. Mandvi possesses that rare, Sedaris-like ability to tightrope walk between moments of humor and poignancy, relaying one man's journey to find his place in both a funny and moving way. —Doug, Audible Editor

Summary

"My father moved our family to the United States because of a word. It was a word whose meaning fascinated him. It was a singularly American word, a fat word, a word that could only be spoken with decadent pride. That word was . . . Brunch! 'The beauty of America,' he would say, 'is they have so much food, that between breakfast and lunch they have to stop and eat again.'"
—from "International House of Patel"

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, stories 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.

©2014 Aasif Mandvi (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Critic reviews

"It always bothered me that Aasif was more than merely funny - he's also a great actor. Now I've learned he's an amazing storyteller as well, and I am furious . . . but also grateful. Aasif's movement between cultures and genres is what makes him and his story singularly funny, poignant, and essential." (John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require)

What members say

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  • The Reading Date
  • 06-11-14

Witty and Thoughtful

In No Land’s Man, actor Aasif Mandvi recounts his experiences growing up and feeling like an outsider. He moved from Bradford, England to Tampa, Florida with his family when he was sixteen, which was quite a culture shock. In No Land’s Man, Mandvi talks about his experiences as a multicultural actor, leading up to his breakout role on The Daily Show.

It seems like every week there is a new celebrity memoir, though Aasif Mandvi’s wasn’t really on my radar until recently. You may be familiar with Mandvi from The Daily Show, where he is the Senior Middle East correspondent. I must admit I don’t really watch the show, but I looked up Mandvi on IMDB and found I’m familiar with his work in The Proposal and The Internship. So, I was intrigued to listen to this book to learn more about Mandvi’s background. The book cover caught my eye too- isn’t it cute? (The pancakes figure into the story – Brunch is a big selling point for Mandvi’s father’s move to the US)

The early chapters focus on Mandvi’s experiences at boarding school in England, where he was a target of racial bullying and called every name in the book. Race and religion is a recurring theme in the book as Mandvi gets typecasted when he goes for acting roles, and is asked to portray stereotypes.

Mandvi got interested in performing when MTV came around in the 80s. He got obsessed with emulating Michael Jackson’s dance moves, and this got him some positive attention at school, and showcased his entertainer abilities.

Family is also a theme of the book, and Mandvi discusses his parents’ jobs, gender roles, cultural frustrations, food preferences, and humorous anecdotes.

Aasif Mandvi narrates the 4.5-hour audiobook. He is a great storyteller and gets very animated as he shares his stories. The high-energy, consistent performance keeps the listener engaged throughout. The only thing that I thought would have been cool to add though were clips of some of the performances referenced in the book. The audiobook is entertaining and made me want to check out more of Mandvi’s work.

I think this book should appeal to fans of The Daily Show, and readers of humorous and cultural memoirs.

49 of 51 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Ryan
  • Ryan
  • 27-12-15

The humor and pathos of not quite fitting in

In this short but enjoyable audiobook, former Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi mines his life as a Indian-British-American-not-particularly-devout-Muslim struggling actor for amusing stories or poignant reflections on trying to establish an identity when you don't really fit in to begin with. Some are laugh-out-loud hilarious, such as his accounts of his enthusiastic but somewhat embarrassing (to his teen self) Indian parents. Others offer cultural commentary from an outsider's perspective, not really casting a flattering light on the casual racism a brown-skinned person sometimes encounters in the US or an industrial British city. Others are gently funny, such as an account of showing up stoned at Brooke Shields' New Years Eve party and having to deal with the inner voices of his thirteen-year-old self, who had a crush on her, and a middle school bully, both of whom are personified as characters. There's some insight into the value of having a "senior Muslim correspondent" on the Daily Show, even if not a particularly devout one. And I could relate, from a similar set of events in my life at the same age, to his college experience of letting himself be wooed (for Jesus) by a very Christian girl, even as he entertained desperate hopes that their relationship would take a different direction.

As one might expect, given his affiliation with Jon Stewart, Mandvi has a good grasp of absurdity, irony, sincerity, and hopefulness. And his reading voice, which morphs effortlessly from a Brooklyn accent to an indignant Indian father to a thick Yorkshire dialect as the narrative demands, is part of the charm. If he's not in quite as zany as, say, David Sedaris, his pieces show that America's melting pot still brings its own share of humor, insight, and talent to the table.

28 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Susie
  • 13-01-15

Funny, Poignant

Aasif Mandvi is familiar to me as a correspondent for the Daily Show, and true to expectations, this audiobook is funny all the way though. But Mandvi sneaks in a serious, vulnerable, and loving side of himself too that gets at the heart of his experiences with racism, immigration, and family relationships.

His description of his father's schemes to get a discount at a series of IHoPs on a road trip across the South are a hilarious contrast with going from auditions for "Aladin" and snake charmer type roles to -- after September 11th, Terrorist, terrorist, terrorist.

His performance brings out aspects in the book that I probably would have missed in print. It's a superb performance.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Sheila A. Dechantal
  • Sheila A. Dechantal
  • 10-11-14

You dont really know Aasif....

What did you love best about No Land’s Man?

Aasif narrates in a high energy and engaging manner!

What was one of the most memorable moments of No Land’s Man?

Loved his story about moon walking like Michel Jackson, and crashing Brooke Shields party.

Have you listened to any of Aasif Mandvi’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listened to it after work from my hotel room in about two days.

Any additional comments?

This audio was a lot of fun to listen to. I always enjoy actors and tv personalities that narrate their own audio books. It only seems right that they should be telling their story. Aasif narrates with a high energy and fast talking manner that you think he is hopped up on coffee (or perhaps that brownie he mentions along the way…).

Honesty, I did not know much about Aasif going into the read, but after listening to this book I have a whole new appreciation for the talent of this man who never stopped doing what he loved and made his way to who he is today.

Highly enjoyable! Fans of Aasif are not going to want to miss out on this up close and personal look of his life.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Doug - Audible
  • Doug - Audible
  • 31-03-15

A Really Funny and Surprisingly Moving Listen

After years of watching him bait crooked politicians and naïve bigots into falling over their own stupidity and ignorance, I knew Aasif Mandvi as the hilariously deadpan "Senior Middle East/Muslim/All-Things-Brown Correspondent" on The Daily Show. So, when I got the opportunity to listen to his new memoir No Land's Man, I was sure it would be an entertaining experience. And while this held true and I found myself consistently laughing out loud at passages, what really surprised me was how unique his story is and how well he tells it. Mandvi possesses that rare, Sedaris-like ability to tightrope walk between moments of humor and poignancy, relaying one man's journey to find his place in both a funny and moving way.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Skylar
  • 24-02-15

Fantastic storytelling - thoughtful stories

The way Aasif wrote, assembled and told his life stories fascinated and inspired me. I felt I was in the moment with him many times. Funny, sad, scary, weird and totally human stuff. Ready for book number two Aasif. Please?

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Alessandro
  • 24-11-14

Enjoyable

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It's the American Dream come true from an Indian-English-America mixed up young man. That makes it interesting since it's the case of many people in today's relatively smaller world. I myself am very mixed up so I immediately understood the feeling of not belonging to anything while at the same time being a part of everything.
For me it was time well spent. He has a very singular voice.
I enjoyed it.

Have you listened to any of Aasif Mandvi’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Never heard of him before. I will look for his movies.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jenny Jenkins
  • 26-11-14

The Wittiest Friend You Wish You Had

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Aasif Mandvi is a great storyteller who makes every minute of his audiobook a pleasure. Listening to his book as I drove and took the subway was like having a super-funny insightful friend gabbing alongside me. His self-deprecating humor never had that weird edge of self-loathing that most comedians' humor seem to have. Perhaps that's because he considers himself an actor, not a comedian, and that makes a difference. And now he's a writer. I missed Aasif and his parents when the book was over.

What other book might you compare No Land's Man to and why?

Boy by Roald Dahl. Humor really must be terror recollected in tranquility. Both Roald Dahl and Aasif Mandvi recount moments of sheer horror from public school days in ways that produce deep gales of laughter. I'm sure Aasif Mandvi would not protest if I said that Roald Dahl is a genius writer while Aasif Mandvi is just a good and funny one. And could we please figure out why British schools remain hotbeds of sadism?

Which character – as performed by Aasif Mandvi – was your favorite?

He brought his parents to life with affection and humor. And I will never watch an Ismail Merchant or Omar Sharif movie the same way again. Or look at a Mello-Yello soda the same way, either.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • LS
  • 06-01-15

Funny and touching

This is my first audio book and I am so glad I listened to Aasif narrate his own story instead of reading the book. The story remained grounded in a way that can only be achieved by someone discussing their own history. It had color, depth, and humor. I loved it!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • StoryAddict
  • 09-08-17

A truly special book

Any additional comments?

The Humorous Memoir genre is my favorite when it comes to audio books and I have almost universal good luck with them. So, I went into No Land's Man expecting to really enjoy it. After all, it promised to be funny and I've always enjoyed Aasif Mandvi on The Daily Show (for the record, Mandvi was my vote to replace Jon Stewart).

What I didn't expect is how profound this book could be. Yes, there are some purely fun moments and it dips now and then into potty humor (which I am not against!), but there are also essays on identity and belonging and family that are far more deeply written than anything I have ever read in other (more highly-hyped) books in this vein.

This book is not just a collection of funny stories--it is Mandvi's quest to define himself. He doesn't fit into any of the niches we have - he was born in India, but isn't "Indian" as we know it; he was raised in England, but doesn't look English; he was raised Muslim, but doesn't act like any Muslim most Americans would recognize. He battles the expectations put on him by his family and by society and, in the midst of this, blazes his own trail.

This memoir differs from other such memoirs (for example, Yes, Please and Bossypants) because very little of it deals with his life once he "makes it." He doesn't talk about The Daily Show until the last chapter of the book. There are a few chapters talking about his days before making it big, but most of the book is about his experiences growing up as an East Asian immigrant, first in the north of England and then in Tampa, Florida.

I will say this is probably the best written book in this genre that I've read. His essay dealing with profanity is one of the best I've read on the subject (strangely, I have read more than a few essays on profanity). There is also an essay in the middle of the book--because I listened to this book, I can't go back and find the title--that is just beautiful. It talks about his parents coming to Bradford and settling--both with each other and in this new land. If I had any complaints about this book, it would only be that that this particular essay would have been more effective as a closing essay than buried in the middle of the book.

I really can't recommend this book highly enough. I could barely stop listening to it (which meant that I was hitting the gym whenever possible--that alone is pretty impressing) and it made me both laugh and think.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful