Monday, April 29, 2013
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Mariner (Houghton Mifflin)
Pub. Date: April 3, 2007
My husband and I picked this book up on a whim recently and both read it. It's a short read at 184 pages, and we were also motivated by the upcoming movie version. This book was certainly not what I expected and will disappoint (and anger) some readers, but it was really a very introspective, tense book that my husband and I were both ultimately impressed with.
Touted as a thriller (though really it's not unless you can consider it a very subtle thriller focused on underlying tensions), The Reluctant Fundamentalist is narrated by Changez, a Pakistani man who is narrating his story to an American businessman he meets in a cafe. Changez had the opportunity to receive schooling in the United States and then to work in the corporate world in New York City, essentially living the American Dream. But then the attacks on 9/11 happen, and Changez finds his perspective on his life in America turning completely upside down. His conversation provides insights that are surprising and scary but provide an incredible perspective on prejudice and the war on terror.
I went back and read some reader reviews after I finished this and found many people trashed this book and were extremely angry after completing it. I get it... I understand where they were coming from; some of what I read was certainly shocking. But it was also genuine and has to be considered on a deeper level - not just taken at face value. You have to read it to know what I mean, but there is definitely food for thought about prejudice and relationships for the open-minded reader that can look past the superficial. For a "deep" book this is an easy read, and I recommend it.
The movie, released on April 26th, 2013, looks really good, though they clearly added some things to the story to make it more of a Blockbuster!