The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

1. First lines. 2. Published 2007 Penguin and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 3. Lahore Fort complex by Ibnazhar [CC BY-SA 4.0]via Wikimendia 4. Night View of Lahore Fort Food Street By Muhammad Ashar [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia
A post-9/11 story of a man with divided loyalties.

Changez, a bearded Pakistani, tells the story of how he migrated to America to attend Princeton University. He tells of enjoying his life in America, being accepted to work in an elite valuation company, and starting a relationship with Erica, a beautiful privileged American. When war is declared on Afghanistan in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, Changez starts to feel an empathy with his countrymen, leading to a life-changing events.

“I had always resented the manner in which America conducted itself in the world; your country’s constant interference in the affairs of others was insufferable. Vietnam, Korea, the straits of Taiwan …”

“I wondered how it was that America was able to wreak such havoc in the world – orchestrating an entire war in Afghanistan, say, and legitimising through its actions the invasion of weaker states by more powerful ones, which India was now proposing to do to Pakistan – with so few consequences at home.”

Focus on the fundamentals. This was Underwood Samson’s guiding principle, drilled into us since our first day at work. It mandated a single-minded attention to financial detail, teasing out the true nature of those drivers that determine an asset’s value.”

“But bats have survived here. They are successful urban dwellers, like you and I, swift enough to escape detection and canny enough to hunt among a crowd.”

~Quotes from “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid
  • New York Times: “It seems that Hamid would have us understand the novel’s title ironically. We are prodded to question whether every critic of America in a Muslim country should be labeled a fundamentalist, or whether the term more accurately describes the capitalists of the American upper class. Yet these queries seem blunter and less interesting than the novel itself, in which the fundamentalist, and potential assassin, may be sitting on either side of the table.”
  • Sydney Morning Herald: “This is a deeply provocative, excellent addition to the burgeoning sub-genre of September 11 novels. But it would be an understatement to call it merely that. Here is a novel rich in irony and intelligence. Hamid shows us the post-September 11 world from another angle. In doing so he offers up a mirror to the complex business of East-West encounters in these troubled times.”
  • Kirkus: “A superb cautionary tale, and a grim reminder of the continuing cost of ethnic profiling, miscommunication and confrontation.”

Movie adaptation: “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is a 2012 movie starring Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Meesha Shafi, Kiefer Sutherland.

Awards: 2007 Short-listed Man Booker Prize

Author: Mohsin Hamid

Other editions

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