In this day and age where big novels with minimum 400 pages has become a norm, this short but fantastic book comes as a breather. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a highly entertaining work of fiction. Loved the unique way it is narrated.
Published in 2007, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid‘s second novel. It was also shortlisted for the Man Bookers Prize. His first novel is the highly acclaimed, Moth Smoke.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist was also made into a movie in 2012. Though, I’ve heard a lot about the movie, I haven’t watched it as yet.
Narrated in a monologue form, the story starts in a cafe in Lahore, as the protagonist Changez recounts his story to an unidentified American man.
Changez is a Princeton graduate who had previously worked in a Manhattan financial firm. He had embraced the Western dream, but his outlook changes after 9/11. Yes, there is lost love too.
This kind of storyline has been featured many times, what is different is the way it has been narrated-realistic, believable, relavant and in an engaging manner.
The ending took me by surprise, was I disappointed? Yes, a little bit! The ending can be interpreted in two different ways. As the ending is left open for the readers to speculate and interpret.
Overall, a good read. Beautiful written and brilliantly constructed story. A definite must-read. Having loved this book, looking forward to read Mohsin Hamid’s earlier book ‘Moth Smoke’.
Some of the Quotes that I liked:
“Time only moves in one direction. Remember that. Things always change.”
“It seems an obvious thing to say, but you should not imagine that we Pakistanis are all potential terrorists, just as we should not imagine that you Americans are all undercover assassins.”
“I met her eyes, and for the first time I perceived that there was something broken behind them, like a tiny crack in a diamond that becomes visible only when viewed through a magnifying lens; normally it is hidden by the brilliance of the stone.”
“His dislike was so obvious, so intimate, that it got under my skin.”
“I felt suddenly very young- or perhaps I felt my age.”