Ruined by Reading

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Politics, Religion by M on November 15, 2008

Changez is living the American dream. He’s top in his class at Princeton, working for a successful evaluation firm, and falling in love. Until tragedy strikes on 9/11 and Changez’s initial reaction is to smile. But he is far from an extremist. Following 9/11 he begins to see his position in elite Manhattan society slip, his work begins to fall short, and he suffers an identity crisis. So he gets himself fired and heads back to Lahore, which is where we find him today – narrating his life story to a suspicious tourist over tea and dinner.

I thought the way in which this story is told was original and unlike anything I had read before. We hear Changez’s story through a completely one sided conversation he’s having with this American tourist. Any knowledge the reader has of what this tourist is saying or doing is if Changez repeats his questions in his answer.

The subject matter touched upon in this book is also something I think that needs to be discussed. Here we find a man who has nothing against America – it has provided him with an education, a prosperous job, and a beautiful woman. Yet these feelings of rage and hate still lurk under the surface. Not even Changez knows they exist until they surface after the attacks. I would venture to say that these feelings Changez experiences are far more common than we think, and they do not necessarily make one a bad person. I personally can relate to some of the sentiments expressed in this book, and I’m far from an extremist or someone who hates America. I’m also sure many of my friends and acquaintances could easily find something to relate to in Changez’s story.

The ending is definitely a cliff hanger, and I had a feeling something of the sort would happen at the very end. The ending is abrupt and it leaves the reader craving much more of Changez’s story.

Hamid is a gifted author, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an exciting page turner that explores a very delicate but relevant subject. I would recommend it to everyone. I’m definitely going to be picking up Hamid’s other novel, Moth Smoke.

Rating: 5/5

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One Response

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  1. veens said, on November 15, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    You did it AGAIN! You completed this one too before me :)

    I am happy you like it… as I am liking it so far!


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