- Fizzy Thoughts: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dammit. Today I'm having a love-hate relationship with my laptop. I really do like the little bastard, but once again, the keyboard tripped me up. Grrrrrrrrr. I had just typed out a book review and was all set to post it, when I hit some odd combination of keystrokes and POOF, it was gone.

So, let's try this again. The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid. Take 2.

This is a fascinating book. It has a unique voice, as the story is told in an unbroken monologue. Changez (pronounced chun-gays) is a Pakistani who went to the US to attend Princeton and then work at a New York valuation firm. After 9-11 his relationship with America begins to change. Changez tells the story of his transformation to an American stranger as they share a meal in a cafe in Lahore, Pakistan. What makes the story so intriguing is the manner in which it is told. It is a continuous narrative, interspersed with occasional observations about the stranger. Even these become part of the monologue though, as there is not a speck of dialogue in the book. It is a one-sided conversation through which the character of Changez is revealed.

Another aspect of the book that is so appealing is the ending. I won't say anything more, in case anyone decides to read it, but if you have read the book there is an interview with Mohsim Hamid here, where he talks briefly about the book. His comment about the ending (see the last paragraph) is fascinating.

At 184 pages, this is a short book and a quick, but thought-provoking, read. It touches on ethnic profiling and nationalism, as well as love and loss. I would highly encourage everyone to read it.

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In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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