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Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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middle

[ Edited ]

Mohsin_Hamid wrote:I also do gravitate, as you suspect, towards the middle, and the UK is such a place for me at this time in my life. But sometimes the greater challenge is learning to occupy a middle even when things around us feel more extreme....



CGJung talked often about the art of holding the opposites. The polarized politics do not always bring the best results. Often when you choose the side you just perpetuate the conflict and at the same time you can't be spineless so this paradox is ever evolving...'all is as is' and the question for us remains unchanged: how to be in it and there's no one single recipe for that.

This may sound like a generalization but any time you apply this approach to a specific situation you are faced with specific tasks.

So Changez can choose Pakistan and yet not to choose the religious fundamentalism given the education he has, he can fight his battle on another level than the killing of bodies level.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 05-18-200702:29 AM

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Mohsin_Hamid
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎04-18-2007
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Re: middle

Dear Ziki,

I agree. And in fact I think most people are inherently suspicious of those who seem to abandon the middle for the extremes. That said, the extremes can be seductive for a minority, and minorities have throughout history been able to rope along much larger majorities. That is part of why I try to leave my novels somewhat open-ended: the reader encounters an extreme, but how extreme that extreme really is, and whether it is correct or to honestly even to be believed, are questions only the reader can answer.

Mohsin
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Mariposa
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: middle

I think I am more suspicious of those in the middle because I don't understand not taking a position on everything. That doesn't mean necessarily going to the extreme, but at least having a coherent opinion.

But that is not the reason I am posting. I just read a brief synopsis of your book, Mohsin, in the New Yorker(May 28, 2007) under "Briefly Noted." And in their attempt at brevity, I think they did not capture anything of this book at all and I am really annoyed. They did call it a "lucid, unsettling novel" and I thought that was just fine but the rest of it....well, that is another story. Just not the one you wrote. In my opinion. For what it is worth.

Lizabeth (who is pondering writing a letter to the editor which is something I have never done before.)
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Mohsin Hamid (Spoiler)

[ Edited ]

Jessica wrote:

Do you have a question for Mohsin, not related to any of the discussion topics?

Reply to this message to start the conversation.





Mr. Hamid -- after reading this board, I have a question about the intended symbolism of Erica, Chris and Changez. If Erica is America and Chris is Christianity in symbolic intent, is the implication that America forces its lovers to be Christians at some level, even if they, as Changez, must forsake or lay aside their own identity? Like Erica, is it implied that America is risking established relationships, future happiness, madness, internal spiritual disorder, suicide, foul play by taking that path? What is the symbolism of the neatly folded clothes?

If these are questions for the reader, not the writer, feel free to equivocate in responding.

Thank you for this thought-provoking little monologue.

Message Edited by Peppermill on 05-22-200709:34 PM

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Mohsin_Hamid
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Registered: ‎04-18-2007
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Re: Questions for Mohsin Hamid (Spoiler)

Dear Peppermill,

You are precisely right in saying that these are questions for the reader, not the writer. (Or at least I think that to be the case.) The symbolism you refer to is not meant to be so overt or defined. Yes, there may be echoes of America in Erica -- but those are only echoes and I did not intend her to stand simply as a symbol for a country. As for Chris, the echoes you refer to (of Christianity) are even fainter. There is of course Christopher Columbus, as well.

But for me, all this comes down to the point that I did not intend the novel to function largely as an allegory. There are hints around characters, nothing more. So I have placed symbols into the book, but they have no "one" meaning as such, and indeed may be much more important to a given reader's reading of them than to my writing of them.

Mohsin
Author
Mohsin_Hamid
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎04-18-2007
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Re: middle

Dear Lizabeth,

Thank you for bringing the New Yorker review to my attention. I just saw it online. I personally am not a big believer in responding to reviews...

As for the issue of the middle, I think there is a difference between, on the one hand, a well-thought-out compromise that reflects and builds on true complexity, and on the other hand, a refusal to take sides coupled with a laziness that refuses to engage and resolve issues.

For me, the former can be positive. But I am suspicious of the latter.

Mohsin
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Mohsin Hamid (Spoiler)


Mohsin_Hamid wrote:
Dear Peppermill,

You are precisely right in saying that these are questions for the reader, not the writer. (Or at least I think that to be the case.) The symbolism you refer to is not meant to be so overt or defined. Yes, there may be echoes of America in Erica -- but those are only echoes and I did not intend her to stand simply as a symbol for a country. As for Chris, the echoes you refer to (of Christianity) are even fainter. There is of course Christopher Columbus, as well.

But for me, all this comes down to the point that I did not intend the novel to function largely as an allegory. There are hints around characters, nothing more. So I have placed symbols into the book, but they have no "one" meaning as such, and indeed may be much more important to a given reader's reading of them than to my writing of them.

Mohsin




Dear Mohsin -- thank you for your response! The Erica, Chris, Changez triangle had the least believable relationships (and identities) in the story for me, but treating them as an allegory nonetheless felt too simple and incongruous with the remainder of the story. So much so, in fact, that the possibility had not occurred to me until reading this board. Then, it was "oh, was that what it was all about?" Hence, my question.

I am one of those readers who can live with multiple stories from this tale, including the possibility that the fears were ill-grounded or off-point all the way around and these humans eventually went their separate ways without harm. Fortunately, life is more often such. But certainly the tension of the narrative makes other endings feasible, especially within the structure of story.

The best to you and your writing. As I said elsewhere, probably no other book of mine has passed among so many hands. Each person has emphatically agreed that it is a worthwhile read. That copy has also been collecting reviews between its covers as it circulates!

Peppermill
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Author
Mohsin_Hamid
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎04-18-2007
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Good bye for now!

[ Edited ]
Dear Peppermill,

Thank you very much. As a writer, I am always extremely pleased when a reader is willing to take on multiple possibilities in the way that you are. Resisting the urge to shoehorn and be shoehorned is actually an act of considerable generosity.

And thanks as well to all those who have posted questions on this board. The book club comes to an end today, so I suspect this will be my last posting in this Q&A section. Now I will write a final message in the "Welcome from the author" section.

And then I am off on further travels...

Mohsin

Message Edited by Mohsin_Hamid on 05-25-200703:18 AM

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