Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid

As I began reading the novel it struck me as light heartened , little did I know that the mere 184 pages had the depth of an ocean ,covering emotions that had only  been grazed over the surface before .  The  lyrical and practical style of the author impressed me a lot. 
This is a story about the inner struggle that a man goes through when he finds himself in a situation ,where he does not know who he is , where , his origin only complicates matters 
On a more straight forward note , this  novel is a narrative , the narrator being  "Changez" . Changez is born and brought up in a Pakistani elite family and goes on to study at Princeton . His personality and qualifications get him a job in a top of the notch service sector enterprise "Underwood Samson". A very diluted presence of love hangs all along , the love by the name of "Erica" . It is saddening that the beauty of this love is felt briefly while the loss of it ( which does happen in due course) is  presence that hangs around forever. Someone once said that when thunder falls , it befalls with all the might of the Gods . A similar situation occurs in Changez's Life A series of events- the 9/11 ,A terrorist attack on India's parliament & breaking down of Erica sucks the fundamentalist out of him  
Changez is the prefect example of an eastern man who embraced A western world , A western woman and A western way of life .... All of which disappointed him.
The novel is so written that it leaves space for a lot of argument and interpretation , it does not force the view of Changez on you neither does it compel you to have a view , it simply states , how the man felt and what were his experiences .
For instance it does make one wonder on the symbolism of the actions of America post 9/11 . The book says and I quote " Your( American ) country's flag invaded new york after the attacks , it was everywhere . Small flags stuck on toothpicks featured in the shrines .They all seemed to proclaim: We are America - Not New York, which in my opinion , means something quite different - the mightiest civilization the world has ever known ; you have slighted us ; beware of our wrath "  
We find Changez in an identity crises more than once , something that many Asians living abroad can relate to . When he visits his home in Pakistan , his repulsion towards his very own "elite" house ( full with cracked paint , and leaking pipes ) makes him realize his dominantly American perspective of life .
This story also highlights the concept of fundamentalism in great depth . If only Changez had stuck to his fundamental principles he would have lived a better life .
Last but simply not the least this novel also encompasses a tender love story , one that does break your heart 
All in all a beautiful novel ,my   rating 4 on 5