The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Status: Main Selections
April 2007 -- A psychological thriller that spans continents and cultures, The Reluctant Fundamentalist  takes us from the privileged confines of Princeton University to the anxious streets of contemporary Pakistan; from the sun-baked Greek island of Santorini to a sanitarium in the Hudson Valley; from the galleries of downtown Manhattan to the highest echelons of American finance. It's a journey we take in less than two hundred pages, and without leaving, until the very end, a small table at a modest tearoom in Lahore, Pakistan — and yet it is a journey that may reveal more about the human realities of the post-9/11 world than a shelf of thick political treatises.

At the table sit two men: a young Pakistani named Changez and an unnamed American. Only Changez speaks, and his mesmerizing monologue relates his story, beginning with his happy days at Princeton and continuing through his initial success as a well-paid financial analyst. His budding romance with Erica, a beautiful fellow Princetonian, runs in counterpoint to the early promise of his career.

Then come the attacks of September 11. Over the next few months, slowly but inexorably, the innocence of Changez's ambition is shadowed by his experience of the unexpected political present — and by his altered understanding of his Pakistani past. As his career crumbles and Erica is consumed by her own demons, Changez's sense of his identity fractures under the strain of conflicting impulses of pride, passion, and loyalty. He returns to his homeland, and the complexity of his new life there is reflected in the alternating currents of his voice — ingratiating, insinuating, articulate, respectful, blunt, affecting, and, last but not least, sinister — as he leads his companion toward an uncertain yet ominous conclusion.

An extraordinary work of empathy and imagination, Mohsin Hamid's novel vividly dramatizes the turmoil and terror of today's world in a single unforgettable voice.

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-07-2009 02:32 PM
Categories: fiction & literature
Comments
by B&N Bookseller Paul_C on ‎05-06-2009 01:48 AM
I loved this book. One of the most unique perspectives, narratives and points of view I have read. The story is heart breaking a warm and gut wrenching all at the same time. Truly an entertaining, emotional and eye-opening read.

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