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The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)

by Mohsin Hamid

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8372451,899 (3.69)557
"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
    Netherland by Joseph O'Neill (sushidog, rjuris)
    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.
  4. 00
    The House of Journalists: A Novel by Tim Finch (calvert-oak)
    calvert-oak: Slowly and ruthlessly breaks down the relationship of the empire to its former subjects.
  5. 00
    The Dinner by Herman Koch (baystateRA)
    baystateRA: A first-person narration over a single long conversation with loads of backstory skillfully woven in.
  6. 01
    Falling Man by Don DeLillo (Mouseear)
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» See also 557 mentions

English (232)  Italian (4)  German (2)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  All languages (244)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
Changez, a Pakistani man, comes across you - an American man in Lahore, who may or may not be carrying a gun - and brings you out for tea, telling his story and how he went to the U.S. for college, fell in love, and began working there, until events brought him back home.

In this slim but challenging book, the entire narrative is a one-sided conversation, telling us both about events as the evening progresses and Changez' time in the U.S. There's a lot of ambiguity - especially in the end - and as a reader I was unsettled by not being sure how much to trust the narrator. I also found his love affair with the elusive Erika very odd. Not exactly a book I enjoyed, but it's one that will stick with me for awhile. ( )
  bell7 | May 27, 2022 |
The way this book is written is really great. The whole thing is told to me, a buff American soldier, by a bearded Pakistani man who sits at my table uninvited and unwanted.

I don't get to read my own lines, of course. Just his reactions to them. Which is a lot of fun. But the man's life story is a little too much I love Erica for me, and I'm not crazy about the ambiguous ending - and I normally love crazy endings. ( )
  brutalstirfry | May 6, 2022 |
A moving multilayered story of a Pakistani schooled and working in the US and his evolving relationship with the US during and after 9/11. The story also includes his relationship with a troubled woman and a surprise ending. ( )
  snash | Apr 28, 2022 |
Once you have read this book you will never forget it. The author is talking to YOU. He is inviting you to have some tea, to have a meal. He tells you his story, asks how you are and takes you to dinner. He points out things and people in the place where you are sitting and he tells you his story. Eventually, he takes you to your hotel, where the story ends for one of us, maybe? This is a fantastic book. Please read it. ( )
  nab6215 | Jan 18, 2022 |
Changez, a young Pakistani who has studied in America and worked with a leading US valuation company, meets an anonymous American in Lahore and invites him to a local eatery. Over the course of an evening, we eavesdrop on their conversation, although we only hear Changez in what effectively becomes an extended monologue about his American experience.

Hamid's novella follows a format which is becoming quite typical of the more marketable types of literary writers. A story which would have been unremarkable in lesser hands is recounted by a quirky narrator and/or presented in an unusual structure and/or given a plot twist at the end. This gives the book a formulaic feel at times. That said, Hamid is good at what he does - the result is a work which is taut, gripping and topical. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Jan 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (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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