Monday, January 26, 2015

Review- The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Goodreads Summary:

At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter . . .

Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite valuation firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.

But in the wake of september 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.


I had been looking forward to reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist since a very long time now. The book had been sitting on my shelf since God knows how long, when I finally decided to pick it up and read it. I have always loved reading stories that are set on the backdrop of the 9/11 attacks on America. It is a very sensitive issue and everyone's opinion on it depends on on where they live but some way or the other, the entire world was affected by it, which is why the theme always works, whether in books or movies. The Reluctant Fundamentalist was no exception. It was just as good as any other book I've read based on the most politically challenging incident of our times. 

Before telling you what The Reluctant Fundamentalist is, let me tell you what it is not. It is not a political outburst, it is not a debate, it is not a retelling of the attacks, nor is it a journey of the consequences of the event. The book is a simple second person point of view narration, where the protagonist Changez, sitting in a comfortable and quaint café in Lahore, recounts to an American man about whom we know nothing, his journey as a respectful Pakistani boy coming from a prestigious yet financially slightly unstable family who goes to become a hard working student at Princeton University, a diligent worker at Underwood Samson, a sincere and reverential friend and lover, but throughout his journey, what strikes the reader the most is that Changez remains, from the first page to the last, a human being who is very good at heart. 

When I picked up The Reluctant Fundamentalist, I honestly had no idea what I was getting into. After reading the first chapter itself, I knew that the story would move me tremendously. While not tremendously, the story still moved me. I was slightly disappointed by difference in the range of emotion that I wanted to feel and the one I actually ended up feeling. Because it is a very simple narration, I found myself connecting very easily with the protagonist Cahngez, whose voice was very crisp, smooth, honest and sincere. His transition from a local boy to an international man and how he wanted to identify himself as a New Yorker but knew in his heart that he would always be Pakistani, was simply astounding. Author Mohsin Hamid has a writing that flows like a large and generous river running through the magnificent country that is Pakistan. His book is very good. I only wish it were longer. 



  1. I believe I've read this author before, but not this specific book. Sounds intriguing, though. Might have to check it out. Great review! Thanks for sharing. And for stopping by my blog earlier. :D

  2. I'm really glad that you were able to enjoy this one Sarika, it's not a book that I've heard about before, but can see why it could have such an impact on you. Lovely review as always! :)

  3. A sensitive topic indeed! I'm quite surprised and impressed at your description of the premise and story. I have read and seen many takes on that day, but this sounds like a point of view I've never encountered before. Great review, Sarika!

  4. Agreed! Everyone was affected by this no matter where you live. Oh! I always find 2nd person POVs intriguing and different. I'm glad you connected to the story, but sorry you weren't AS wowed as you thought and hoped you would be! Glad you still enjoyed it regardless though:)

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