At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting . . .
Changez is living an immigrants 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 Changezs own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.
It's likely that some who would appreciate this book have avoided reading it believing, from the title, that it offers an apologia for fundamentalism.
This is not the case. In fact, it is difficult to imagine that any well-read, balanced reader could find anything offensive in its pages. The Reluctant Fundamentalist
raises many questions but, happily, leaves the reader to answer almost all of them for his or herself.
This superbly written, gripping tale is a shoe-in for book clubs and all who enjoy being intellectually challenged by their reading matter. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Washington Post - Laila Halaby
Hamid has done something extraordinary with this novel, and for those who want a different voice, a different view of the aftermath of 9/11, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is well worth reading.
The New York Times - Karen Olsson
[M]onologue is the substance of Hamid's elegant and chilling little novel
Despite his off-putting commentary, the damaged Changez comes off as honest and thoughtful, and his creator handles him with a sympathetic grace.
Starred Review. Terse, disturbing . . . The climax builds with masterfully controlled irony and suspense. A superb cautionary tale, and a grim reminder of the continuing cost of ethnic profiling, miscommunication and confrontation.
Starred Review. Hamid's second novel succeeds so well it begs the question -- what other narrative format than a sustained monologue could have been as appropriate?
The Sunday Times (UK)
[P]rods the intellect, quickens the pulse and captures the imagination.
The Guardian (UK)
An intelligent, highly engaging piece of work.
Good Housekeeping (UK)
This exquisitely measured story, as told by a Pakistani man, Changez, to an American stranger, is drum-tight with tension.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Lynn Don't let the title turn you off The main character, Changez, was very likable and at the same time able to subtly point out the biases that American's have regarding the Mideastern culture and people. It has made me think hard about how my assumptions are not always backed up by... Read More
Rated of 5
by Debi Read this book! Absolutely amazing. This is one of those books that will have a permanent place on my bookshelf. It is a wonderful journey of self-discovery and an extremely subtle journey of suspense. Don't let the title put you off. Read this.
Mohsin Hamid, who now lives in
London, grew up in Lahore,
Pakistan, and attended Princeton
and Harvard. Like Changez, he
has also spent time in Chile and
the Philippines but he assures
the reader in the
interview you can read at
BookBrowse that, while he has
inhabited the geography of Changez's world, he is not
His first novel,
Moth Smoke, was a Betty
Trask Award winner, PEN/
Hemingway Award finalist, and
New York Times Notable Book of
the Year. His writing has also
appeared in Time, The New York
Times, and other publications.
He completed the first draft of
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
in the summer of 2001. After
September 11 he wrote and
A heartbreaking literary masterwork about love, family, and the power of imagination, which confirms Mengestu's reputation as one of the brightest talents of his generation.
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