Book Review: Unimagined

Genre: Autobiography/ Contemporary Non-Fiction/ Memoir

Author: Imran Ahmad

Cover critique:

Different covers have been released since the publication of this book in 2007. Even the tag line keeps on changing, to give it an updated look. The cover given above is the one that I have purchased so I thought to use its tagline. Though the most recent title of this book is, "Unimagined: Muhammad, Jesus and James Bond". I like the colour scheme used in the above given cover, red and white, far better than the rest of the covers. The only thing which remains constant in all covers is Imran Ahmad's childhood picture, which I think is a very creative idea for a book of this genre. It is a cute and fun idea to keep the cover interesting unlike other non-fiction book covers. I think all covers are good but I could not help noticing this cover in Indonesian language (Below: Centre). I find it the most apt and convincing (kind of funny too!) for this entertaining and amusing memoir.
Did anyone notice the edited picture with Jaguar XJS (his favourite car) in his hand?
 If you notice closely, it is absent in the rest of the covers!


The book is about the journey of a Pakistani born Muslim who is brought up in a British culture in the 1960’s. With poignant incidents from his life, told in the most profound and hilarious way possible, this memoir exposes the perspective of a Muslim who learns to find a middle path and a balance between the two contrasting cultures. The chapters unfold his yearning to be counted as a part of the Western society while staying intact with his roots.

As East meets the West, there are colliding notions and preconceptions, in the wake of socio-political identity mayhem whose undercurrents are felt as we read between the lines of his stories. The cultural and religious demarcations get dissolved one by one, as he goes through small yet life-turning events. He recalls the days gone by fondly, while shifting from one stage of his life to another, which result in the development and metamorphosis of his own thoughts and concepts to ultimately achieve an identity for himself in this struggle for “fitting in” the Western society.

The book kicks off with his mother’s extremely difficult labour to finally deliver him into this world, described in just two pages in a filmy manner with the “heavy downpour” and a “splash of humour”. The very beginning sets the reader in the mood for forthcoming adventures and the whimsical overtures of this witty and clever writer. As we learn about his coming “second” in the Karachi Bonnie Baby Contest and his frustration on not winning the well-deserved first prize, he takes us with him to Manchester where his family arrives as “immigrants”. In the most human and gentle way, he paints the excruciating facts of the 60’s and 70’s Britain, needless to say which is quite different from present Britain.

The bigger issues of “racial discrimination”, “international affairs”, “political upheavals and historical events like India-Pakistan war”, “religious misconceptions between Christians and Muslims” are intertwined smartly with the descriptions of his school and college life through smaller issues like “peer pressure”, “jealousy”, “notions of sexuality, love and marriage”. The heaviness of these topics vanishes off with the remarkably funny anecdotes from his past life which made me laugh out loud while turning the pages swiftly to read it in one go.

The vivid memories of his childhood start from getting tricked by junior con artists and losing his precious Tarzan bubble gum cards collection, to participating in the Metropolitan Police school quiz. Getting bullied in the school as a shy kid to becoming a confident boy who passes the entrance exam to the local grammar school, he crosses many u-turns to enter his adult life. The writer goes on to narrate his brief interactions with the opposite sex, the questions which arise in his mind and the innocent answers which he devises, as a result of watching television shows:

“Unfortunately, it wrecks my theory of reproduction.......So, it’s not the getting married that causes pregnancy; it’s the going to bed together. As a result of this act, mind must trigger off the physical process of pregnancy”.

Then we come to know about his utmost desire to look and behave like his favourite hero, James Bond and to own and drive a car which he drives in the movie series, “Jaguar XJS”. As he blatantly writes:

“I have a longing for this kind of persona: that of Simon Templar or James Bond. A handsome and brave adventurer, loved by beautiful women and admired by all.”

The bold and honest approach, with which the writer discloses the secrets of his heart and mind, is truly worth-praising and made me feel that I was reading about a real person with faults and errors. Unlike many memoirs with diplomatic handling and tedious approach, this book served fresh and candid style of writing an autobiography. I was totally engrossed from its first chapter till the last because the writer manages superbly in generalizing his story with so many of us, so that we can relate to his life. It is indeed a thought-provoking book which can be read on many levels. Being born and bred in Pakistan and living in England, the book helped me gain an insight into globalization and the constantly changing face of British as well as Muslim culture.

The book is thin with its short and crisp chapters but contains thick matter, especially if one likes to dissect the psychological ramifications of experiences in one’s life. I could not find any negative points as there is not a single dull moment and one rarely stumbles upon such a great piece of literature. It is going in my “favourite books collection” as I will surely be reading it again and again. As it is both enjoyable and mind-boggling, I would highly recommend it! 

To buy this book, click here.

Review Girl Rating: 10/10

About the Author:

Imran Ahmad is an impressive public speaker and has appeared on many media platforms such as BBC television, Sky television, SBS television (Australia), Voice of America television, Press TV, National Public Radio, BBC radio (many times), Radio Australia, and ABC Radio National (Australia). Besides writing his successful memoir, he has travelled all over the world as part of his corporate career. Want to know more about the author? Then go to his website by clicking here.


  1. Hey komal! Hope u hv settled down in ur new house to make it a home sweet home.
    Thank God u hv come back on ur blog with a new book review. Wid me many were waiting.
    The book,"Unimagined" looks like a worth reading autobiography as u rated it 10/10.
    Im attracted by the auther's boldness n honesty.n Im liking the cover in which the little boy is having his favourite Jaguar XJS car in his hand.

  2. @ankhseojal: Yes, I am in the process of settling down, but major part of shifting is done. Thanks so much for your lovely wishes! Oh, I missed my readers/followers so much too! I am happy to be back and planning to make my blog more exciting, so keep reading!:)
    I think many people do not have a taste for memoirs, unlike me. But there are people like you too, who are open-minded to read a wide range and appreciate a good book. Do check this one as it is definitely worth a read! Thanks for your comment!:)

  3. Great review Komal. Sounds like an iteresting book even though I find the cover a bit freaky.

    I answered your comment on my blog about the giveaway. Basically the one rule I'm given from the publisher is where to ship since they do the shipping. I know of several people who have an agreement with a friend/relative in the US to have the books shipped to them and then they somehow mangage to either send or have a frequent traveler drop them off.


  4. @Man of la book: Thanks for liking my review!:) Which cover did u find the most freaky? lol!
    I know every blog has their giveaway rules. That's alright. I rarely see giveaways which are international, maybe authors/publishers market more in US or maybe because more blogs cater to US readers. It can definitely be a topic of discussion!

  5. Kamal, the yellowish one is the freakiest, LOL

    When I get a book to review & an OK for a giveaway from the publisher its usually tied to a marketing campaign. So if the campaign is for the US paperback release they're not going to do an international giveaway.

    When Indie authors agree for a giveaway it's usually and eBook and usually international.

  6. @Man of la Book: First of all, its "KOMAL", not Kamal! (you misspelled my name!) Well, Thanks for throwing light on this subject. I get your point. I have not yet done any giveaway on my blog, and in the process of understanding how the whole thing works. Thanks for your insight.

  7. Great review. It sounds like such an amazing book. I love the orange cover the best ;)

  8. @Elisabeth: Your lovely comment is much appreciated. Yeah, I think the book is like a breath of fresh air in the memoir collection. WOW! someone likes the cover too!:) So, it is not that odd after all. I am happy someone's got taste!;)

  9. I read this book following your review. It stands up to your 10/10 rating. Great book and appropriate review.

  10. @anon: Great to know you read this book and liked my review. So happy!:)

    Today I got a surprise in my email. A very warm response from Imran Ahmad himself. I would like to share his email with all of you here:

    "Dear Komal,

    Thank you so much for your very kind words! You really made my day.

    Your review was also totally unique, in that it is the only one which discusses the different covers. I found your insights fascinating. The funniest thing is that your favourite cover is the one I like the least! What an eye-opening experience that was for me -- I must be a real square.

    You might find the actual story of my publishing journey interesting:


    Thanks again.

    Best regards,


    Also, I would like to tell all those who want to buy his book, go and check out this link for his current paperback edition:


    Thanks again to Imran for his encouraging words!:)

  12. Would like to thank the publishers of "Unimagined", for acknowledging my review and placing it on their site. Here is the link:


    From, The Review Girl.

  13. I just finished reading this. Great review :)
    I have it in the last cover pictured. First time on your wonderful blog. I'm a book worm. Drop by my blog too.

  14. @Pandora's Box: Thank you so much for your warm feedback. Good to know that u like reading multi-cultural authors' books, hope u liked this one. Yes, I am going to check out your blog now!:)


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