Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Author: Mohsin Hamid
No of Pages: 182
Storyline: The novel begins after a few years of 9/11 attacks in Lahore, in a restaurant, where a bearded Muslim guy, Changez Khan, starts to converse with an American stranger. The identity of this American is never revealed though. Changez starts narrating his story of his American dream. From a scholarship in Princeton to a job in Underwood Samson as a financial analyst and about his relationship with an American woman, Erica.Erica who is still in a relationship with her dead boyfriend and can’t move on. Changez is intelligent and smart and his job was like a dream come true thing for him. But what happens that Changez decided to go back to Pakistan? What happens to Erica? Will she move on? Did 9/11 attacks changed his life too? Is every Muslim with a beard a terrorist? Who is this American man? Why is Changez narrating him his story?
Thoughts: This book was nominated for Man Booker Price in 2007. This is a first book that I have read which is written as a dramatic monologue. Changez narrates his story and the listener remains silent. Mohsin Hamid wrote a quite powerful story in less than 200 pages. Changez story shows the dilemma of an immigrant for whom America is a dream. Being an outsider, the immigrant starts to mix up with the American culture and soon goes through an identity crisis. He goes back to his house in Pakistan and feels disgusted that he sees his old house as a filthy home with the eyes of a foreigner. The story is a political allegory in which Erica represents America and Changez Pakistan. 9/11 brought cultural clash and Changez had to choose between the Christian West or Islamic East. In order to achieve his American dream of status and wealth, will changez really sacrifice his own identity and culture? That’s the story about.
So, if you are looking for a really good novel in which one has to think deeply and where things are presented in allegories, go for this book. It talks about an immigrant who wishes to become a big man in America. In today’s world, aren’t we all attracted to America? We watch American shows and movies and aspire to have an American life. So, this book offers you the immigrant experience- Changez’ story and why he decided to go back to his own country.