Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of "American Dervish," published in 25 languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His play Disgraced played at New York's Lincoln Center Theater in 2012 and premiered at the Bush Theater in London in May 2013. Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His play The Invisible Hand was nominated for the ATCA/Steinberg Award, and won Best New Work 2013 from the St. Louis Theater Critics Circle. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for "The War Within." He has received commissions from Lincoln Center and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.