37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
A Slight Novel, Superbly Realised,
This review is from: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Hardcover)
As an outsider's view on the War on Terror and the 9/11 attacks, the Reluctant Fundamentalist offers a revelatory take on a series of events the west is only starting to question. It follows the story of Pakistani immigrant - Changez - working in a high powered corporate job in New York, after graduating from Princeton. At first, with his $80,000 salary, expense account and sharp suits, he thinks he is living the American dream, but then the attacks on the World Trade Centre take place and he is forced to question his reason for being.
As with On Chesil Beach, another of the 2007 Mann Booker Prize nominees, at less than 200 pages this is less a novel than a novella. But don't let you think this is a book you can race through. Moshin Hamid's prose is restrained and thoughtful; intricately layered and insightful - in short, to be savoured.
Some things didn't work for me: the form of narration - Changez telling his story to a western stranger outside a Lahore restaurant was somewhat clumsy. Each chapter is prefaced with a slightly camp `Oh, but sir, our tea is about to arrive' etc. A straightforward memoir would have worked better and would have avoided the messy ending. Also the title of the book suggests that this is in some way about hard core Islamism or terrorism: it's not, but I feel that it will invariably discourage some readers.
Nevertheless, these are minor quibbles and the Reluctant Fundamentalist is a triumph, a wonderful exposition of a man forced to question his personal, national and religious identity in troubled times.