Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Monday, April 29, 2013

Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Pages: 184
Genre: Fiction
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!

Review: The New Republic by Lionel Shriver

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Title: The New Republic
Author: Lionel Shriver
Genre: Fiction
Pub. Date: March 27, 2012

I recently got around to reading We Need to Talk About Kevin which was fantastic, so I was excited to try another of Shriver's books when I had the opportunity to review this one. As other readers have mentioned, the author included a note in the beginning about how this book was written years ago (prior to Kevin) but was put on hold because of the lack of potential interest in a novel about terrorism followed by the actual act of terrorism that then rendered this book taboo; years later it was decided that this book would be released, and few changes were made to it. Unfortunately, that had me wondering, throughout reading, if maybe it being an older effort of the author's affected its quality as it was a difficult read for me that I did not enjoy. The topic did not offend me, but it's application was dry to me.

Edward Kellogg makes a mid-life career change to become a journalist. Much of his thoughts and decisions are motivated by his desire to be "cool" and admirable like those he has looked up to because of his "uncool" history as a kid. He ends up being assigned to Barba, near Portugal, where the previous journalist has gone missing, and uncovers scandal along with the terrorism.

The plot sounds interesting in theory but didn't maintain my interest. I also expected to find it funnier (togue-in-cheeck, I know) but I didn't. I think most of it may have been Kellogg, himself, who I found annoying from the get go. I wonder if the main character had been more sympathetic and likeable if the rest of what played out may have been funnier. I also think that the side story about Kellogg's history and wanting to be popular was unnecessary. As it was, I didn't care for it and was hugely disappointed because of my huge enjoyment of Kevin and all the other amazing things I have heard.

Catch up on and follow the rest of the tour below:

Tuesday, April 2nd: The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, April 3rd: Man of La Book
Monday, April 8th: The Scarlet Letter
Wednesday, April 10th: Sophisticated Dorkiness
Thursday, April 11th: she treads softly
Tuesday, April 16th: Becca’s Byline
Monday, April 22nd: Lit and Life
Wednesday, April 24th: Take Me Away
Thursday, April 25th: I Read a Book Once
Friday, April 26th: Luxury Reading
TBD: Melody & Words