Dec 17

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamid


Picture 1 Fiction
First Published in 2007
Publisher: Penguin Books
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007
International Bestseller

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Book Synopsis:

Seated at a cafe in Lahore, a mysterious stranger tells you his story. He invited you to join him, and though the evening, you come to know what led the stranger to approach you. Well educated, well traveled, he seems to know more about the ways of the West than you do. He embraced the Western ideal and a western woman, and was let down by both. However, you soon find out the real reason for this meeting…

Picture 3My Book Review

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an extremely readable novel. It is also surprisingly gentle. The political and religious seem to take a backseat to the life story of the Pakistani protagonist, Changez. This book is really one long monologue with the reader only getting to see one side of a conversation, dominated by Changez, with an American, whom we suspect to be a very reluctant listener.

In general, I find genre classification misleading, as it leads to stock expectations. Philip Pullman (the author of His Dark Materials, a writer for whom I have great respect) is quoted on the cover of my copy of The Reluctant Fundamentalist saying: “Beautifully written…more exciting than any thriller I’ve read for a long time.”

So I read this book expecting a thriller. But it’s not a typical thriller. If I had to classify it, I would call it a love and falling-out-of-love story, with the overarching genre being a subtle thriller – for you know from the title, time period and what Changez says early on, that there is something larger than just a casual conversation between an American and a Pakistani.

I guess the key word here is subtle. This one sided conversation shifts between the present, the American and the Pakistani sitting in a cafe watching Lahore go by, and the life story of Changez – from his studies at Princeton right up to him now, sitting at this very cafe. This book provides a glimpse of understanding as to what a Muslim Pakistani might feel caught up in an American world before and after 9/11. Just remember my key word of this book -subtle- even at the end, which I think is the best part about it.

x Julie

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