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The Dirty Version

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Asia Salam, a hip-hop DJ with a guilty conscience, finds herself ducking bullets on the same night her drug dealing brother Deen fails to meet her with some “serious” news. Temür Mirzaev, a disenchanted hitman struggling with his jailbird father’s puzzling legacy, might know a thing or two re: Deen’s whereabouts. Too bad he’s more concerned with his future in the biz than t Asia Salam, a hip-hop DJ with a guilty conscience, finds herself ducking bullets on the same night her drug dealing brother Deen fails to meet her with some “serious” news. Temür Mirzaev, a disenchanted hitman struggling with his jailbird father’s puzzling legacy, might know a thing or two re: Deen’s whereabouts. Too bad he’s more concerned with his future in the biz than the occasional casualty of war. But when a chance meeting forces Asia and Temür to cross paths, it soon sets in motion a chain of events that has them racing to uncover the truth of what happened the night that Deen disappeared. And what they learn about the people closest to them means dire consequences for all… Set in the foreground of the economic and political upheaval of 2009, The Dirty Version is a story of blood ties that bind, the grey between good and evil, and the (im?)possible quest to save a life.


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Asia Salam, a hip-hop DJ with a guilty conscience, finds herself ducking bullets on the same night her drug dealing brother Deen fails to meet her with some “serious” news. Temür Mirzaev, a disenchanted hitman struggling with his jailbird father’s puzzling legacy, might know a thing or two re: Deen’s whereabouts. Too bad he’s more concerned with his future in the biz than t Asia Salam, a hip-hop DJ with a guilty conscience, finds herself ducking bullets on the same night her drug dealing brother Deen fails to meet her with some “serious” news. Temür Mirzaev, a disenchanted hitman struggling with his jailbird father’s puzzling legacy, might know a thing or two re: Deen’s whereabouts. Too bad he’s more concerned with his future in the biz than the occasional casualty of war. But when a chance meeting forces Asia and Temür to cross paths, it soon sets in motion a chain of events that has them racing to uncover the truth of what happened the night that Deen disappeared. And what they learn about the people closest to them means dire consequences for all… Set in the foreground of the economic and political upheaval of 2009, The Dirty Version is a story of blood ties that bind, the grey between good and evil, and the (im?)possible quest to save a life.

30 review for The Dirty Version

  1. 5 out of 5

    Saleha

    The Dirty Version is my FAVOURITE book ever! I've never found any Muslim representation quite like this before. The author explores aspects of Islam that you never get to consider in a fiction novel. For example, what it means to be a good person, destiny, life after death, etc. And all of this is done through the criminal underground in Toronto. I love it! I love the author's style of writing. It's contemporary and slangy, and offensive (but in a good way). That's why the title is in the form o The Dirty Version is my FAVOURITE book ever! I've never found any Muslim representation quite like this before. The author explores aspects of Islam that you never get to consider in a fiction novel. For example, what it means to be a good person, destiny, life after death, etc. And all of this is done through the criminal underground in Toronto. I love it! I love the author's style of writing. It's contemporary and slangy, and offensive (but in a good way). That's why the title is in the form of an explicit advisory symbol that you see on CDs. I like the fact that it's a literary novel with a plot. Those are basically extinct now, so I find it valuable. I like the fact that I can be challenged intellectually while following a story to its conclusion. Too many books coming out now only have one or the other. I think the characters are fleshed out very well. I almost feel like these are people I know in real life. Especially Asia and Deen. You get the feeling they could have been people you grew up with if you're a millennial. All in all, I think it's an important read whether or not you're Muslim. I think it addresses a lot of the struggles Muslims in the west face and gives us hope for what the future could be like.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mustafa

    Bomb. And not in a bad way. This book changes everything. Everything you think about Toronto, everything you think about Muslims, about crime, about success, about music. The voice is sick. Asia's story is a good contrast with Temur's, and it's fun switching between the two. The author uses Arabic to show how second-generation Muslim kids are always having to switch between directions we call "backwards" and "forwards" (because Arabic is r-to-l instead of l-to-r like English), which really blew m Bomb. And not in a bad way. This book changes everything. Everything you think about Toronto, everything you think about Muslims, about crime, about success, about music. The voice is sick. Asia's story is a good contrast with Temur's, and it's fun switching between the two. The author uses Arabic to show how second-generation Muslim kids are always having to switch between directions we call "backwards" and "forwards" (because Arabic is r-to-l instead of l-to-r like English), which really blew my mind, because I never even thought of that before. You don't even see a lot of stories about second-generation Muslims on the market; it's like they don't even exist. This book works hard to make us visible. Worth every star you've got, Goodreads.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Omar

    Muslim rep I can actually co-sign (as in, not stereotypical or too sentimental). Set in a city I live in (that's a plus). Story's very fast-paced and full of wordplay that makes you think. Characters are real, and I felt like I knew people like them growing up. Even with the mystery revealed, I could probably reread this again, which is why I gave it the 5 stars. Too many books, you don't want to touch them again after, even if they were good the first time. THE DIRTY VERSION just comments so mu Muslim rep I can actually co-sign (as in, not stereotypical or too sentimental). Set in a city I live in (that's a plus). Story's very fast-paced and full of wordplay that makes you think. Characters are real, and I felt like I knew people like them growing up. Even with the mystery revealed, I could probably reread this again, which is why I gave it the 5 stars. Too many books, you don't want to touch them again after, even if they were good the first time. THE DIRTY VERSION just comments so much on so many different things (religion, society, relationships, the education system, popular culture, etc) that I think it's definitely worthwhile to read and re-read over again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Abdul

    I picked up a copy of this from Word on the Street in Toronto. I was not disappointed. There are some rare finds over there. I initially bought the book because it was about Muslim people, but I was surprised by the complexity of the writing. Faris has uncovered a world that mostly goes unnoticed in the book community. The novel is packed with action and excitement. I like the way the dual narrative compliments the plot. The ending was also pretty satisfying. I believe this is one of the most im I picked up a copy of this from Word on the Street in Toronto. I was not disappointed. There are some rare finds over there. I initially bought the book because it was about Muslim people, but I was surprised by the complexity of the writing. Faris has uncovered a world that mostly goes unnoticed in the book community. The novel is packed with action and excitement. I like the way the dual narrative compliments the plot. The ending was also pretty satisfying. I believe this is one of the most important novels to read for us in our current climate

  5. 5 out of 5

    Masood Aziz

    This book reminds me of a fictionalized version of "The Stickup Kids". It had a very Canadian feel to it though. This novel has some important insights. I liked some of the comments on how as Canadians we tend to obsess over American politics to the point where we don't understand what's going on in our own country. Temur is probably the most interesting character in the novel. He has a complicated relationship with his father and his career that gets explored in an unconventional way. Deen is a This book reminds me of a fictionalized version of "The Stickup Kids". It had a very Canadian feel to it though. This novel has some important insights. I liked some of the comments on how as Canadians we tend to obsess over American politics to the point where we don't understand what's going on in our own country. Temur is probably the most interesting character in the novel. He has a complicated relationship with his father and his career that gets explored in an unconventional way. Deen is a pretty unique character as well. I find that I know so many people like him in real life but I've never read about a character written like Deen before. He is someone to be sympathetic and unsympathetic for at the same time. I think Deen's issues with his mother run parallel to Temur's issues with his father, but they end up resolving them in different ways. This is a good book to read if you're looking for some entertainment in a way that makes you think.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hamza Kareem

    Just wrote a review for A Case of Exploding Mangoes and it made me think of this book: the line the author uses from Yunus' prayer. I think there's a lot to like in this novel about the way that Islam is depicted. You have this set of young Muslims who are grappling with their faith throughout the book, but the author incorporates Islam in ways that don't serve an especially political agenda. It's hard to read a book by a Muslim author these days that doesn't warp Islam and present it as somethi Just wrote a review for A Case of Exploding Mangoes and it made me think of this book: the line the author uses from Yunus' prayer. I think there's a lot to like in this novel about the way that Islam is depicted. You have this set of young Muslims who are grappling with their faith throughout the book, but the author incorporates Islam in ways that don't serve an especially political agenda. It's hard to read a book by a Muslim author these days that doesn't warp Islam and present it as something palatable to people (Muslim and non-Muslim) that want "Muslim" reduced to a tag that emphasizes race and culture above all else. So it's interesting that the author didn't choose to go that route. I found the storyline engaging and I liked that the characters were well-developed and unique. I'm anxious to see what this author comes up with next.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mariya

    With so many women authors I read, it's like they're all writing a similar style. I was really craving something different when I picked up this book from a pop-up event in my hometown. The Dirty Version is written from the perspectives of two different characters, so at times the writing is kind of like Junot Diaz's style and at other times, it's something I can't even put my finger on, but I'm definitely feeling it. The dialogue in this book is on point, really snappy, and almost always humoro With so many women authors I read, it's like they're all writing a similar style. I was really craving something different when I picked up this book from a pop-up event in my hometown. The Dirty Version is written from the perspectives of two different characters, so at times the writing is kind of like Junot Diaz's style and at other times, it's something I can't even put my finger on, but I'm definitely feeling it. The dialogue in this book is on point, really snappy, and almost always humorous. Faris really has a way with words. So hard to compare this reading experience to what I've come across so far. Definitely not a typical book about Pakistanis.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maliha

    Wow! Where did this come from?! A friend lent me this book and I was NOT disappointed. I was a little afraid to read it, because she said there IS some violence in it (and there IS some violence in it and explicit language), but it's still pretty funny and has some really cute moments and is just so exciting! Love, love, love the Muslim representation. Asia and Temur have a great connection and I wish there were even more scenes with both of them, but I guess you can't have everything. :( I woul Wow! Where did this come from?! A friend lent me this book and I was NOT disappointed. I was a little afraid to read it, because she said there IS some violence in it (and there IS some violence in it and explicit language), but it's still pretty funny and has some really cute moments and is just so exciting! Love, love, love the Muslim representation. Asia and Temur have a great connection and I wish there were even more scenes with both of them, but I guess you can't have everything. :( I would 100% recommend this book to anyone looking for stories about young Muslim people born and raised in Canada. This book leaves the little that's out there about second generation Muslims in the dust!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Khalid

    This was sick. I can't believe this isn't being made into a movie yet. WHAATT? Muslims in Toronto represent! Asia was badass. I read this book mostly for her. There probably aren't any other books about female hip-hop djs from Toronto. I can guarantee that even though I haven't checked. Teemo was another character most people haven't met in any books. A Muslim Chechen hitman I can sympathize with? Doesn't exist outside of this book. The language was another plus. Dialogue was on point (Faris got This was sick. I can't believe this isn't being made into a movie yet. WHAATT? Muslims in Toronto represent! Asia was badass. I read this book mostly for her. There probably aren't any other books about female hip-hop djs from Toronto. I can guarantee that even though I haven't checked. Teemo was another character most people haven't met in any books. A Muslim Chechen hitman I can sympathize with? Doesn't exist outside of this book. The language was another plus. Dialogue was on point (Faris got all the Toronto slang right). There's a quality to this book that just feels sooo real. Go check it out!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Farah

    This book was amazing. After reading the back of the book, I can honestly say that it didn't fall short of my expectations for it. I like how it was so fast paced and action packed. I never read a character like Asia before. She's such a gutsy Muslim girl. It makes sense that she's from Toronto ;) The book explores some of the meanings behind passages of the Quran. I've never read a fiction book that explains Islam in a similar way. I like how there were Arabic characters in the book with meanin This book was amazing. After reading the back of the book, I can honestly say that it didn't fall short of my expectations for it. I like how it was so fast paced and action packed. I never read a character like Asia before. She's such a gutsy Muslim girl. It makes sense that she's from Toronto ;) The book explores some of the meanings behind passages of the Quran. I've never read a fiction book that explains Islam in a similar way. I like how there were Arabic characters in the book with meanings in the footnotes. I think its interesting how many of the characters are Muslim, but they all see Islam differently. It was very thought-provoking.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Suphia Khan

    This is really different from what I normally read, and there's a lot I don't understand about the subculture explored in this novel, but I found the story engaging and I thought the author's treatment of Islamic themes was so caring. I grew very interested in the characters and invested in their fates. At times, it's a tough book to read, but overall, it's definitely a rewarding literary journey. I look forward to more stories from Medina Faris, and hope they are as equally rooted in North Amer This is really different from what I normally read, and there's a lot I don't understand about the subculture explored in this novel, but I found the story engaging and I thought the author's treatment of Islamic themes was so caring. I grew very interested in the characters and invested in their fates. At times, it's a tough book to read, but overall, it's definitely a rewarding literary journey. I look forward to more stories from Medina Faris, and hope they are as equally rooted in North American Muslim experiences.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Faraz

    "In the DJ booth at Toxic, all we play are deadbeats"....WOW, you got me hooked on that first sentence. Faris reminds me of a combination of Chariandy and Beatty. She writes in a unique style and comes up with fresh prose. She writes about characters that are invisible to the literary world. I've probably never read about second generation Canadians besides Chariandy's Brother, I can't think of another novel that features them. The characters are so real. The novel is fast paced and the chapters "In the DJ booth at Toxic, all we play are deadbeats"....WOW, you got me hooked on that first sentence. Faris reminds me of a combination of Chariandy and Beatty. She writes in a unique style and comes up with fresh prose. She writes about characters that are invisible to the literary world. I've probably never read about second generation Canadians besides Chariandy's Brother, I can't think of another novel that features them. The characters are so real. The novel is fast paced and the chapters are short, so this book is ideal for people on the go.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Musa

    I couldn't really put this book down once I picked it up. There aren't a lot of books out there for Muslim people (and even less that Muslim guys can relate to). It was nice to read a challenging novel that makes you consider the purpose of your faith and the people on the fringes of it. There are a lot of Muslims debating trivial things right now and I think this book asks some of the more big questions. I couldn't really put this book down once I picked it up. There aren't a lot of books out there for Muslim people (and even less that Muslim guys can relate to). It was nice to read a challenging novel that makes you consider the purpose of your faith and the people on the fringes of it. There are a lot of Muslims debating trivial things right now and I think this book asks some of the more big questions.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zainab

    So different from everything that's out there!!! A world of clubs and hip-hop music and drug deals and hitmen, all with Muslim characters trying to figure out their lives. Super exciting read. I finished it in a couple of days, taking it with me wherever I went. The end almost wrecked me. READ THIS BOOK!!! So different from everything that's out there!!! A world of clubs and hip-hop music and drug deals and hitmen, all with Muslim characters trying to figure out their lives. Super exciting read. I finished it in a couple of days, taking it with me wherever I went. The end almost wrecked me. READ THIS BOOK!!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ayesha Mian

    I loved being able to read a book that is set in Toronto for once. Faris is a talented writer and she doesn't hold back. This novel is pretty critical of Canadian society and I think it was exceptionally well written. It's heartbreaking to read about these Muslim characters though, so proceed with caution! I loved being able to read a book that is set in Toronto for once. Faris is a talented writer and she doesn't hold back. This novel is pretty critical of Canadian society and I think it was exceptionally well written. It's heartbreaking to read about these Muslim characters though, so proceed with caution!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Yusuf

    This book brings Scarborough to life in a way I never knew existed. The places feel so familiar that I have nostalgic flashbacks every time I pick it up. Everything from the club scenes to the shooting range is on point. Faris has me fiending for more.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    It's the type of book you can't put down. Funny, smart, and intense all the way to the end. Faris did a great job for her first novel. It's the type of book you can't put down. Funny, smart, and intense all the way to the end. Faris did a great job for her first novel.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hassan

    This book had fresh prose and an interesting plot. The character development was strong and it was an enjoyable read. The dual narrator gave it more nuance.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zain Kassam

    This is the best Muslim fiction I've read in a long time. This is the best Muslim fiction I've read in a long time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kashif

  21. 4 out of 5

    Farrukh

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ayan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Fatima Huq

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shifa

  26. 5 out of 5

    Isa

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aisha

  28. 4 out of 5

    Farheen Mohammed

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rayhan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hatim ouhbi

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