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The Reluctant Fundamentalist Hardcover – 1 Mar 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd; First Edition edition (1 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241143659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241143650
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (291 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mohsin Hamid is the author of three novels, MOTH SMOKE, THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST, and HOW TO GET FILTHY RICH IN RISING ASIA, and a book of essays, DISCONTENT AND ITS CIVILIZATIONS.

His writing has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as winner or finalist of twenty awards, and translated into more than thirty languages.

He was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and has spent about half his life there and much of the rest in London, New York, and California.

Product Description

Review

"I read Mohsin Hamid's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" with increasing admiration. It is beautifully written--what a joy it is to find such intelligent prose, such clarity of thought and exposition--and superbly constructed. The author has managed to tighten the screw of suspense almost without our being aware it is happening, and the result is a tale of enormous tension. I read a lot of thrillers--or rather I start reading a lot of thrillers, and put most of them down--but this is more exciting than any thriller I've read for a long time, as well as being a subtle and elegant analysis of the state of our world today. I was enormously impressed."--Philip Pullman

About the Author

Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School and worked for several years as a management consultant in New York. His first novel, Moth Smoke, was published in ten languages, won a Betty Trask Award, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. His essays and journalism have appeared in Time, the New York Times and the Guardian, among others. Mohsin Hamid currently lives, works and writes in London.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
EXCUSE ME, SIR, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cheshire Tiger on 25 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a book club choice and since Mann Booker shortlist books are often a bit of a struggle, as is the perceived topic of Islamic fundamentalism, I was not particularly looking forward to it. But in fact it's very good. Yes, it's a soliloquy, but it avoids verbosity, and it flows smoothly. For some reason I'd expected that the lead character was a worthy, ethical medic, but in fact he's a Princeton business graduate and a soccer enthusiast. But he's caught between two cultures nonetheless. And that, of course, is the theme of this book: to quote a phrase from it, "the importance of tribe".

We see the clash of Pakistani tradition versus a complex US culture, hard nosed yet psychotic (not the easiest mix). But had it not been for 9/11 there might not have been a problem for Changez, the narrator.

This is a book to make you think, not to make you feel happy. I didn't particularly like Changez, nor his neurotic American girlfriend, nor the enigmatic "sir" he is talking to. I don't think I was supposed to. But the message of the book registered with me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anti propaganda on 27 April 2009
Format: Paperback
The Reluctant Terrorist is a quick read. Most of it is set in a cafe in Pakistan with the main character Jangez, recounting to an American what he had experienced before and after 9/11 in New York while employed in a high-flying job (an experience which overlaps with those dastardly city stock brokers who created the financial crisis!). His former colonial grammar school education combined with his outsider's fascination with the American Dream, attracts Jangez to an all-American girl who isn't interested in him beyond a sycophantic friend or a substitute for an ex-boyfriend. The first-person narration works for me, although there are moments like 'I see you are thirsty enough to accept another wonderful cup of tea. Yes? I thought so, one moment' etc... which takes a bit of getting used to.

However, this book is ground-breaking: Apart from the horror and revulsion felt, which was understandable after 9/11, there was also a widespread but unexpressed feeling that was neither extremist nor hugely patriotic or sympathetic to what had happened.

I had been waiting to find an apt expression of this 'feeling', I can't think of a better word at the moment, because it became clear that there must be other viewpoints on issues like the war on terror than those found on most of the western media outlets.

Reluctant Terrorist is not an anti-American piece of literature, it is far too intelligent to be summed up in such a way. Instead it shows how the American Dream, from an immigrant's point of view, rather than being fully seized upon, is sort of interrupted and inverted. The manner of the first person narrative style always holds back from putting the boot in, as it were.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jaybird on 24 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
This slim, beautifully written book is written as a monologue spoken by a young man, born and living in Pakistan, but educated in America. He is telling his life story to an American stranger in Lahore.

This outwardly simple book is packed full of ideas. There are themes of loss and grief, but also of nostalgia, of the dangerous slide of both countries and individuals who lose wealth and influence but retain the pride of earlier days, best illustrated in the lines "As I have already told you I did not grow up in poverty. But I did grow up with a poor boys sense of longing, in my case not for what my family had never had, but for hat we had had and lost. Some of my relatives held onto imagined memories the way homeless people hold onto lottery tickets. Nostalgia was their crack cocaine, if you will, and my childhood was littered with the consequences of their addiction: unserviceable debts, squabbles over inheritances, the odd alcoholic or suicide."

There is a sophisticated analysis of the imperial nature of America, with discussion of how the brightest and best of the developing world are trained as "janissaries", isolated from their cultural roots without fully being assimilated into their masters these child soldiers have nothing to do but work or fight for their adopted nation.

This novel is not political dialectic, it is intensely personal, and that is why it works so well. It encompasses a repeatedly thwarted love affair, which is drawn wonderfully well and a brilliant sense of place.

The reader knows, throughout the book that they are not getting everything from the aptly named Changez; he is an unreliable narrator because of what is omitted, but what he tells you feels true, intense and is not the usual, superficial analyses.

A book with real depth.
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102 of 112 people found the following review helpful By BookAddictUK VINE VOICE on 31 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing bloated or overdone about Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Yet this sparse, finely cropped short novel tackles some of the challenging issues. Changez, a Pakistani Muslim from a once wealthy family in Lahore, experiences his own version of the American Dream when his talent and his Princeton scholarship lead him to a high-flying job in the world of New York finance and to relationship with a beautiful, enigmatic all-American girl who represents his passport into high society as well. But, over aromatic food and exotic drinks back in Lahore, Changez relates in a one-sided conservation with an American traveller how he never felt entirely at ease and how the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the subsequent repercussions - both political and personal ones - roused him from his American Dream: his reluctance to follow the advice of his mentor in business to focus on the fundamentals is replaced by an hankering to concentrate on fundamentals of a very different sort.

Yet at times the very sparsity which makes the novel so compelling leaves the reader in a void of ignorance. One is, for instance, driven to seek to understand Changez's conversion but the text provides so little challenge to Changez's narrative that it is left flimsy, incomplete and thus unresolved. This is perhaps Hamid's intention - to set out clearly that there are no easy answers; that Westerners will always fail to understand the East. In that sense this is a deeply unsettling novel and leaves one wishing for just a little more, a little more insight, a little more depth. The sense of `unfinishnessed' is only heightened by the ambiguous, unresolved but perfectly composed ending.
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