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About the Book and Author

About the Book

Book Cover Image: Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Author: Mohsin Hamid Buy It

Mohsin Hamid's first novel, Moth Smoke, set in Pakistan among Lahore's fast-paced, hard-living young urbanites, was praised for its unflinching, unexoticized portrait of the city.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist opens at a café table in Lahore, where an uneasy American man listens as Changez, the novel's decorous narrator, begins the tale of the events that have brought him to this time and place.

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 infatuation 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 budding 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.

About the Author

Author Photo: Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, studied at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, worked as a management consultant in New York and as a freelance journalist in Lahore, and now lives in London.

His first novel, Moth Smoke was a winner of the Betty Trask Award in the UK, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award in the US, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a cult bestseller in Pakistan, where it was also adapted for television. His articles and essays have appeared in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Guardian, and numerous international publications.

Discover all titles and editions from Mohsin Hamid.

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Re: About the Book and Author

The book is written in second person, at least the present tense parts are, and the structure is apparently indebted to The Fall by Albert Camus, with which it has a suicide in common.

Second person narration is a little unusual; one of the few novels I've read which uses second person is "If on a winter's night a traveler. . ." by Italo Calvino, which is a metafictional novel while The Reluctant Fundamentalist mimics an autobiography or memoir, framed on either end by a narrator in the present who is relating what he has learned from experience. That part is not unusual, novels from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison to Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga are structured that way.

The narrator seems a bit mad, and not because of the bats, although it's interesting that he must consider his implied audience, the American, to be a newcomer to Lahore, since he feels the need to explain that the bats are harmless.

He seems mad because he's telling this American, a stranger after all, his intimate life story in the first person, while interjecting second person assurances that the man shouldn't feel threatened or in danger of poisoning, assassination, etc. He also as much as admits to madness toward the end of his tale when he describes walking the streets of Manhattan flaunting his beard as a provocation to passersby.

PS "Crayfish" will get you laughed out of New Orleans. They're called "crawfish."

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Re: About the Book and Author

Dear Mohsin,

Hello, I wanted to attend your reading when you here in Chicago but I was unable to attend. You and I have never met, but we share a mutual bond. I like you was born in 1971 in London but I grew up in the States. I moved to Lahore in '90 when you came to Princeton. My Parents felt I need to get in touch with my heritage, I thank them whole-heartedly. Even all the summer vacations of my childhood to Lahore could not create the friendships,the memories of Kinnard,the meeting of my husband and the affinity I have for Lahore today. I lived in Lahore for almost 10 years and I have mapped every street and place in my head. We even share mutual friends, I believe. Your wedding photographer happened to be my sister-in-law. So as they say the world is smaller than we think.

I came upon your book first book in the later half of 2000, after I read it I felt as thought I knew the characters. I could even put faces to the characters. I was haunted on how even though your book being fiction in nature, spoke to me like a biography of Aitchisonian Boy struggling to survive in the "Sunday" magazine "in" crowd.

Just about a month ago, I saw your book The Reluctant Fundamentalist and without hesitation I picked it up. I read it and I was glued. I really enjoyed it, I relished every page. In both books, I could knew the characters as I said before and I could put faces without meeting these fictional characters.

My question is in regards to Changez, Did you name the character based on someone you knew be it living or deceased? If not, then why pick the name Changez it is not the most popular Pakistani name. Yes, he is considered the most fiercest warrior of his times but on the other hand killed so many Muslims in the sub-continent. It appeared to me to be an oxymoron that the name of the character was named Changez. Given the history of origin of the name, and that the character is in the midst of being racially profiled as terrorist and his own dilemma of patriotism to defend his religion and country.

Please if you could shed some light on my query. I congratulate you on writing another transcendent book and I am waiting, with bated breath for you third book. I am sure that our paths shall cross one day until then I bid you adieu.

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