Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw that this book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for the year 2007, that it was The New York Times bestseller, some raving reviews of the book, that the book had an intriguing title and precisely those were the reasons why I bought this book. The unique feature of this book is that it is written in the form of a conversation, where we are presented with what only one of the persons engaged in the conversation said. The author's writing style is lucid and free-flowing, as in a conversation. If you judge it from the point of view of literature, it is not a great piece of fiction, but there is an element of intelligence inherent in the narrative.

What I found worth-mentioning about the novel is that it gives a very realistic account of the impact of the 9/11 attacks on the lives of ordinary Muslims. Another thing I must confess here. Being an Indian myself, I always viewed Pakistan as an enemy nation, one constantly in search of one pretext or another to wage a war against India. I think this kind of thinking is ingrained in the collective Indian consciousness. But I was amazed when the protagonist said:
"But I worried, I felt powerless; I was angry at our weakness, at our vulnerability to intimidation of this sort from our- admittedly much larger- neighbor to the east."
And it describes in detail the journey of the protagonist from an intelligent Princeton graduate to being 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'.

This is the first book that I read not just by Mohsin Hamid, but by a Pakistani author also. I loved the fact that at the end of the novel, it gave me a different perspective to look at our western neighbour. I would like to read more books by this author and by Pakistani authors in general.

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