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The reluctant fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Hmmmmm.
I feel so stupid.
I read this book and didn’t notice that the female character is called Erica, as in America. Dur! And the main character is Changez. Le sigh.
Anyway, this is an interesting book that is highly thought provoking. It concerns a young Pakistani man who leaves his home country for an education at Princeton and a career in New York when snapped up by a prestigious company that require him to learn to assess other companies worth.
The story is told as one side of a conversation taking place in Lahore between Changez and an unknown American man as they share a meal.
The characters voice is polite, educated and somewhat formal. He relates his feelings at the wealthy salary he was paid, and the standard of living he witnessed. He contrasts this with his family and his home. He is at once seduced and repelled by the glamour and consumerism all around. He falls in love with Erica, but she can never be his, remaining firmly in love with her past. Geddit?
When the news of 9/11 unfolds on his news screen he smiles. A life altering reaction to the event.
It is a formally told tale with sufficient tension building as we wonder how Changez ended up back in Lahore, and what is going to happen when he finishes his oral history. I’m not sure that is as powerful as maybe it could have been, but the voice works plausibly and I enjoyed the confounding of my expectations.

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2 responses »

  1. Heh, I read this book this week (see blog) and I didn’t spot the (Am)Erica thing either! I spent most of the book wondering what the symbolism was supposed to be with her unable to let go of her past and wasting away as a result… Thanks for shedding a little light!

    Reply
  2. Well I’m glad that it wasn’t just me then!

    Reply

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