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Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West (2017)

by Mohsin Hamid

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,2221474,808 (3.86)285
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet -- sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors -- doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. Exit West follows the couple as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.… (more)
Recently added byLilye, miken32, nancyjean19, piquareste, rena40, private library, yulischeidt, bradleyhorner
  1. 30
    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Both books use a magical means of transportation to illuminate the plight of refugees (runaway slaves in one and immigrants in the other.)
  2. 10
    American War by Omar El Akkad (sturlington)
  3. 10
    Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (charl08)
    charl08: Similar rif on current refugee 'crisis' - but in a very different direction.
  4. 10
    The Road Home by Rose Tremain (JenMDB)

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» See also 285 mentions

English (145)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (147)
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
This is a story about refugees and how they survive in the new countries they arrive in. The author uses the device of magical doors that people escape through, but I wouldn't consider this a sci-fi novel. The doors are simply a way to focus on the arrivals, not the journeys of immigrants and refugees. This novel follows a young couple, with short flashes of stories of other people, allowing contrasting realities to emerge, based on where you end up, and who you are. ( )
  LynnB | Jun 6, 2020 |
I enjoyed the writing a lot and the story at first, but I could have used a bit more depth. It felt like a summary of a longer book, or the telling of a fable, more than a novel itself. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
A gently moving, quietly poignant story about a couple fleeing from war across borders and time to new lives. More than that, the story of Nadia and Saeed is mirrored in many ways by those of others, of a long-separated mother and daughter, of an rootless old veteran, of two elderly men finding companionship in each other, a mute maid unwilling to move from service. Though the emotions run deep and the stories feel true, Hamid keeps distance from the characters and situations, such that our protagonists' war-torn country could be any country, and these side stories could be any stories, and these migrants could be any people, and we are all at least "migrants through time". Indeed, in this story about transience and change and acceptance, Hamid places heavy emphasis on time and cycles. This is apparent thematically in the old woman being a "migrant through time" and migrants making barters "of time", but also in Hamid's distinctive writing style: distinctively long and meandering sentences each seem to take their time to arrive at their destination, noticing and reflecting on much on the way, even once, memorably, describing a woman's experiences in a house through childhood and marriages and deaths, such that her lifetime seemed to be encapsulated from beginning to end in a single sentence.

Plus: bi representation, humanistic characterisations of religion, and a generally deeply-felt and -expressed appreciation of humanity. A lot of very nice things to appreciate in this book. (Thanks, Adam, for the copy! :)) ( )
  piquareste | Jun 3, 2020 |
I'm of two minds with this book.

My first mind revolves all around SF and SF concepts and good plots and great characters and deeper feels and plainly fun writing.

My second mind is content to have a novel that's mostly just about the immigrant condition and have a mostly realistic if slightly too regular action revolving around a strained relationship between two rather different people forced together by circumstances.

The second mind considers this novel to be rather literary and super-grounded in everyday and everyman concepts, attempting to be universal while barely touching upon anything extraordinary. This is true despite the fact that an apocalypse has come and portals to other places start turning normal doors into a random exodus on the Earth. This concept is barely explored. It's just a dirty handwavium and is used as a very convenient plot device. The fact that war devastates everything and all the normal lives are thrown into upheaval is just a setting, not something to have thoughts about.

This is fine if all we want is a character novel that makes light work of everyday chaos and instead tries to show us that normal relationships will still try to work (or fail) regardless of setting. We aren't required to have any kind of stability to live. Our two main characters here are caught in the normal struggles of very different people trying to make a go, drift apart, or otherwise dance the somewhat sad and complicated dance that is all relationships. Theirs is not a happy or exciting relationship, but it is a complicated one. The author is striving for realism and he gets realism.

The other reason this book might attract readers is the fact it's distinctly Muslim.

On the other hand, my first brain is rather disappointed. I wanted SF and this is about as mild as it comes. A brief mention that doors become doors elsewhere is all we get. The rest is just mild survival stuff with mostly running into nice people who give these kids a place to stay once they finally leave their homes. Later on, it's just the immigrant condition of making a living, falling apart, and later, wondering what happened.

As an SF it's almost nothing. At least in other "literary" works I could mention like DFW or Rand or Atwood, a lot more attention is given to making the SF interesting and thought-provoking.
This one was just a silly plot device that is below the standards of 1930's bad pulp. Sure, the literary realism side is nice and readable if that's what you want, but as an SF? Look elsewhere. It can't even be considered a post-apocalyptic.

I suppose I'm not really a fan of the super-super mild brand of literary fiction that borrows a single super-simple SF concept to tout itself as being on the forefront of the genre. It cheapens the really and truly excellent authors who have done amazing things in the field in so many brilliant ways.

If he's trying to fool the literary crowd into buying into the SF market, then fine, but that market needs to realize this kind of novel is baby/baby lite SF that's more like a shadow of a shadow of what it could be. I suppose it might be best to just call it literary and strike off the idea that it might be SF.

Ian M. Banks, this is not. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This was very different from what the summary had led me to expect and I think that was why it took me a while to get into it. But then I loved it and couldn't put it down. It's a very interesting take on the refugee crisis and its effects on all levels - the world, countries, communities, and most of all its effects on migrants. At the same time, it is a love story from beginning to end and traces how relationships can change over time.

To me, the overall message of the novel was something along the lines of '(bad) things happen, but it will be alright' - regardless of whether it's falling out of love with a person or a worldwide societal problem. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Sortida a Occident, de Mohsin Hamid, comença sent una història d’amor íntima i emocionant i acaba sent una profecia novel·lada sobre el futur que, globalment, ens espera. En Saeed i la Nadia són dos joves que viuen en un país del qual no se’ns diu el nom però que per les seves característiques -és musulmà i està governat per un règim autoritari contra el qual se subleven milícies integristes- resulta familiar. L’amor entre en Saeed, retret i conservador, i la Nadia, valenta i independent, creix a mesura que el seu país s’esllavissa per l’abisme de la guerra, cosa que els obliga a fugir. És en aquest punt que Hamid es treu de la màniga un cop d’efecte argumental que desplaça les coordenades de gènere de la novel·la. Resulta que, arreu del planeta, han començat a aparèixer portes secretes i especials que transporten qui les travessa a un altre indret del globus. La introducció d’un element tan explícitament fantasiós fa que, després de creure durant tot el terç inicial que ens trobàvem davant d’un relat realista (si bé l’autor va preparant el que vindrà mitjançant unes escenes breus i estranyes), de sobte ens descobrim abocats a una mena de faula futurològica.
added by bugaderes39 | editAra, Pere Antoni Pons (Nov 11, 2017)
Exit West is animated – confused, some may think – by this constant motion between genre, between psychological and political space, and between a recent past, an intensified present and a near future. It’s a motion that mirrors that of a planet where millions are trying to slip away “from once fertile plains cracking with dryness, from seaside villages gasping beneath tidal surges, from overcrowded cities and murderous battlefields”.
added by VivienneR | editThe Guardian, Sukhdev Sandhu (Mar 12, 2017)

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mohsin Hamidprimary authorall editionscalculated
Köpfer, MonikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quinn, MarysarahDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willey, RachelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Naved and Nasim
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In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Average: (3.86)
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