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.
EXCUSE ME, SIR, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard: I am a lover of America. I noticed that you were looking for something; more than looking, in fact you seemed to be on a mission, and since I am both a native of this city and a speaker of your language, I thought I might offer you my services.
How did I know you were American? No, not by the color of your skin; we have a range of complexions in this country, and yours occurs often among the people of our northwest frontier. Nor was it your dress that gave you away; a European tourist could as easily have purchased in Des Moines your suit, with its single vent, and your button-down shirt. True, your hair, short-cropped, and your expansive chestthe chest, I would say, of a man who bench-presses regularly, and maxes out well above two-twenty-fiveare typical of a certain type of American; but then again, sportsmen and soldiers of all nationalities ...
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).
Full Review (829 words).
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 ...
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