Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Reluctant Fundalmentalist by Mohsin Hamid

From Amazon.com:
Mohsin Hamid's first novel, Moth Smoke, dealt with the confluence of personal and political themes, and his second, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, revisits that territory in the person of Changez, a young Pakistani.

Told in a single monologue, the narrative never flags. Changez is by turns naive, sinister, unctuous, mildly threatening, overbearing, insulting, angry, resentful, and sad. He tells his story to a nameless, mysterious American who sits across from him at a Lahore cafe.

Educated at Princeton, employed by a first-rate valuation firm, Changez was living the American dream, earning more money than he thought possible, caught up in the New York social scene and in love with a beautiful, wealthy, damaged girl. The romance is negligible; Erica is emotionally unavailable, endlessly grieving the death of her lifelong friend and boyfriend, Chris.

Changez is in Manila on 9/11 and sees the towers come down on TV. He tells the American, "...I smiled. Yes, despicable as it may sound, my initial reaction was to be remarkably pleased... I was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees..." When he returns to New York, there is a palpable change in attitudes toward him, starting right at immigration. His name and his face render him suspect.

You can read more of the review here , but there are some spoilers if you read the review further.

I am listening to the novel on CD and the reader (Satya Bhabha) gives the flavor of a young British-educated young Pakistani to his speech along with all his feelings: anger, mystery, overbearance, etc. His voice adds to the novel's elegance and terror.

I think I want to suggest that you listen to the CD instead of reading the novel. I've never made such a suggestion before.

theteach

2 comments:

jm4847 said...

Well without reading the book I can only imagine how hard it was for him. Luckily I've never been a target of social hatred because of my race.
Like somebody, I don't remember who exactly, said: People will hate arabs until they find someone new to hate. Whether it's illegal immigrants, israelies, that's irrelevant.

the teach said...

You and I are lucky, never to have been the target of racism. How insightful you are!