Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamid

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2007, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2008, 192 pages

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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 Changez.

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 rewrote it, completing seven drafts before arriving at his final version - eventually honing a 1,000 page manuscript down to a 180-page book.

"I believe that the core skill of a novelist is empathy: the ability to imagine what someone else might feel. And I believe that the world is suffering from a deficit of empathy at the moment. The political positions of both Osama Bin Laden and George W. Bush are founded on failures of empathy, failures of compassion toward people who seem different. By taking readers inside a man who both loves and is angered by America, and by allowing readers to feel what that man feels, I hope to show that the world is more complicated than politicians and newspapers usually make it seem. We need to stop being so confused by the fear we are fed; A shared humanity should unite us with people we are encouraged to think of as our enemies." - Mohsin Hamid (more).

This article was originally published in September 2007, and has been updated for the April 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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