Tuesday, June 5, 2012
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
At a café 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 meeting . . .
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 infatuation 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.
What a clever and powerful book.
Beautifully written in First Person Narrative by only one character throughout the book. In my opinion, it would not have been quite such a powerful book written any other way.
The voice of Changez seemed very real and showed his Pakistani/English accent very well.
I am not normally a fan of books that leave the ending open to your own interpretation but this is the one exception. I would have been disappointed if the ending had been more resolved. The book group discussion of the ending showed me even more how clever the writer is as each person in the group had a slightly different view of how the story went.
Despite being a short book, by using certain widely held stereotypes, the author managed to make the characters very easy to visualise and even to understand (whether you agree with them or not you can understand where they are coming from on both sides of the story). It certainly gave me some food for thought and some understanding of the world situation at that time.
Read it for the second time for Book Group and it just gets better as I notice even more detail that I did not pick up on during my first read many years ago.
Definitely one that has made my "everyone should read this book" list.