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The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)

by Mohsin Hamid

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,6542441,826 (3.69)537
"Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite valuation firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore. But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned and his relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love"--Book jacket.… (more)
  1. 20
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    sushidog: Perhaps an odd recommendation, but both novels explore a (temporary) immigrant's experience in America.
  2. 20
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: First-person narratives of growing disenchantment
  3. 00
    Die Sommer: Roman by Ronya Othman (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Politisches Erwachen in der Fremde, bei Hamid in New York, bei Othman in Deutschland.
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    calvert-oak: Slowly and ruthlessly breaks down the relationship of the empire to its former subjects.
  5. 00
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    baystateRA: A first-person narration over a single long conversation with loads of backstory skillfully woven in.
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» See also 537 mentions

English (231)  Italian (4)  German (2)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  All languages (243)
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
short, interesting to hear from another (Pakistani) point of view, still only provides the briefest of glimpses into the fundamentalist mindset and almost no connection specifically to the radicalization of Islam. mostly about the personal life struggles, pride of country and family that really drive everyones decisions in life. then again maybe the point is that it really is those everyday universal influences that end up creating a fundamentalist? definitely worth the 2 hours to read it.
  royragsdale | Sep 22, 2021 |
An interesting page turner of a novel that focuses on a Pakistani guy torn between New York and Pakistan. I found the character to be deeply motivated by his convictions and driven by, what I feel is, a rather naive black-and-white view of the world.

The title felt a bit misleading. This is mostly because Changez, the protagonist, never truly reveals himself to be a fundamentalist. We read about his character--the trials he goes through, the lost love, the bond of family--and it's very difficult to truly pin him as the sort of fundamentalist that is portrayed by the media. His fundamentalism is related to his love for his country; it is nationalism in its truest form. Religion plays a very minor role in the book, and it's nowhere in sight when his fundamentalism is developed.

The narrative is quite interesting and ambiguous, to say the least. Hamid manages to keep things fresh without having to resort to tired cliches. The faceless, voiceless American character is kept mysterious, which I think works quite well. The ending is rather interesting, leaving it up to the reader to decide what it truly means.

I had picked up this book because I was looking for something light and easy to read. I was not disappointed. It is a fresh narrative that deals with fundamentalism on a different level. It's also helped by the fact that it was quickly paced, concise, and was an excellent page turner. ( )
  bdgamer | Sep 10, 2021 |
Utterly brilliant. The best novel I have read in several years. Gorgeous prose, innovative storytelling style, deeply humane and thought-provoking. ( )
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
One of my memories of 9/11 was the shock and confusion I felt seeing a young Arab-American man celebrating and dancing in the street in Patterson, NJ. Mohsin Hamid's novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, doesn't really attempt to give reasons for celebrations such as that, but lays some groundwork toward gaining some insights and understanding. The story is presented in a single monologue style of a young Pakistani man who is telling his life story to a nameless American stranger in a cafe in Pakistan. The young man was living the American dream, having come to the United States on a scholarship to attend Princeton University. Following graduation, he was hired by an high end firm in NYC, making more money than he thought possible.

Everything changed a year later on 9/11 when he saw the towers come down. His initial reaction was that not that of a shocked American who he thought he'd become, but of a third-world Muslim who was strangely pleased seeing the U.S. humbled.

Afterwards, his life changes because of a failed love, and also because of changes in attitude toward him, his facing and thinking of his homeland, his family, his culture. Using someone else's description, it's a look at the dark side of the American Dream, exploring the aftermath of 9/11, international unease, and the dangerous pull of nostalgia.


( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
Unexpected, thought-provoking, and sad. Good novel that packs an emotional wallop. ( )
  jgmencarini | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
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.
 
There's undoubtedly a great novel waiting to be written out of the anguished material of these kinds of east/west encounters. This book may not be it, but its author (who won a Betty Trask award for his first novel, Moth Smoke) certainly has the potential to write it.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, James Lasdun (Mar 3, 2007)
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mohsin Hamidprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dishlieva-Krasteva, NevenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

Blackbirds (2014)
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"Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard. I am a lover of America."
Quotations
"For despite my mother's request, and my knowledge of the difficulties it could well present me at immigration, I had not shaved my two-week-old beard. It was, perhaps, a form of protest on my part, a symbol of my identity, or perhaps I sought to remind myself of the reality I had just left behind; I do not know recall my precise motivations. I know only that I did not wish to blend in with the army of clean-shaven youngsters who were my coworkers, and that inside me, for multiple reasons, I was deeply angry." (p.148-9)
"...one of my coworkers asked me a question, and when I turned to answer him, something rather strange took place. I looked at him - at his fair hair and light eyes and, most of all, his oblivious immersion in the minutiae of our work - and thought, you are so foreign. I felt in that moment much closer to the Filipino driver than to him; I felt I was play-acting when in reality I ought to be making my way home, like the people on the street outside."
(p.77)
"Have you heard of the janissaries?" "No," I said. "They were Christian boys, he explained, "captured by the Ottomans and trained to be soldiers in a Muslim army, at that time the greatest army in the world. They were ferocious and utterly loyal: they had fought to erase their own civilizations, so they had nothing else to turn to... How old were you when you went to America?"
(p.171-2)
"There really could be no doubt: I was a modern-day janissary, a servant of the American empire at a time when it was invading a country with kinship to mine and was perhaps colluding to ensure that my own country faced the threat of war. Of course I was struggling! Of course I felt torn!"
(p.173)
"But at that moment, my thoughts were not with the victims of the attack - death on television moves me most when it is fictitious and happens to characters with whom I have built up relationships over multiple episodes - no, I was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees." (p.83)
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"Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite valuation firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore. But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned and his relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love"--Book jacket.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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