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Exit West (2017)

by Mohsin Hamid

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,5951754,126 (3.84)301
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)
  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 301 mentions

English (171)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (173)
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
Hamid’s aphoristic and controlled language made this a delight to read. The understatedness of the prose was “show, not tell”, allowing readers to confront the raw emotions of war’s violence, the refugee’s plight, and a relationship’s heartrending but unsurprising decay without embellished language as a distraction or crutch. The characters’ unflappable dignity and eventual safe passage give the novel a sense of hope even as it centers on the fallout of forced migration across the world. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
Sometimes a novel has so many layers and nuances that I feel at a loss at what to write, and this is the case with this one. On the one hand, it is a novel about migration: The reasons for it, the consequences, the sacrifices people who migrate have to make in order to save other aspects of their lives or their lives at all. On the other hand, it is a novel simply about two characters, their love for each other and how they and this love change over time.
The first part of the novel follows Saeed and Nadia as they live and fall in love in an unnamed city, which could be any city in the Middle East or South Asia. Their city is threatened by militants and war breaks out. What was most impressive to me were the descriptions of daily life in this occupied and later war-torn city.
Nadia and Saeed decide to leave their city through one of the doors that pop up and lead to other parts of the world. Although this is a magical realism element, it almost doesn't feel like one because it is not dwelt on a lot.
The two lovers try to start a new life in foreign places, they move on again, and their relationship changes over time as they adapt to these places and the situations they encounter.
So yes, this novel is not only about migration as such, but about how people change, about what they expect from life, about what binds them together and what separates them, and, as the text states, there is not only migration from place to place but across time as well.
This novel made me reflect on so many things, and above all, it also made me even more aware of what many people have to go through. I thought about the people in my life who have had such experiences. And it even made me reflect on myself and the kinds of migrations I have experienced, although thankfully they were never as extreme as those of many other people.
My only criticism is that I wish that some events would have been narrated a little more detailed. The summarizing style was a bit hard to follow and so I was only able to read a few chapters a time, although the novel is not long. On the other hand, I appreciated the style a lot because it felt authentic and in tune with the message of the text as I understood it. ( )
  MissBrangwen | Apr 4, 2021 |
Mohsin Hamid's Exit West is a novel about the global refugee crisis with a twist. Rather than undergoing long journeys over land or sea the refugees in this book step through black doors and find themselves in some other part of the world. This allows the author to move his central characters into multiple settings, but it also leaves the novel devoid of an important (at least in my mind) part of the process of being a refugee—the exhaustion and risk of journeying. The characters are interesting, but not fully fleshed out, which left me feeling at a remove from them throughout the book. In some ways, the most interesting parts of the books are the brief sections where we get a page or two of a a refugee's story, then never meet that character again. Here the lack of complete information is an invitation to do our best to flesh out and understand their stories. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Mar 16, 2021 |
Incredible magical-realist romance on migration, movement, borders, and time -- I read Exit West in one sitting and cried a tonne when it was over.
  booms | Mar 9, 2021 |
I can’t remember why I picked up this novel, but presumably it was because I figured that it would be similar to the Cellist of Sarajevo or Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - a story centred around the events of war, but containing a central human element that focused on civilians and the realities of war. Unfortunately, this novel came off much more as a romance, since it did not attempt to tell the story of the war through the lens of the people living through it, but instead told the story of two people falling in (and out) of love with social change as a by-product that presented a certain amount of conflict. Obviously the war the author is referencing is current, but somehow even that potential poignancy is missing from his narrative as he essentially tells their story from beginning to end without much uniqueness. I guess the whole point of this book’s popularity is that it’s easy to read, and makes an attempt to come to terms with present day events, but in comparison to other novels of its type it falls short. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 171 (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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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.

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