Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid

A captivating story that packs a punch.

Post 9/11 made Asians most particularly Muslims a very unpopular face in the West. The Twin Tower attacks were shown time and again and reinforced a growing antipathy for the Muslim community as a perpetrator also rose. It doesn't help that with each terrorist attack, it is becoming more deepseated. This where the book comes into relevance. This was one of the first books that I read projecting the perpetrator as a victim.

I read this book sometime back but saw its film adaptation recently. I liked the book better. The book is clear and focussed whereas the movie in an attempt to make it more palatable for the viewing public. It digresses and misses the point.


It is a monologue where Changez Khan does all the talking. The opening scene is that he is met by a journalist who wants to know if Khan is a fundamentalist and Khan then tells him his story.

What works:
  • I have always thought monologue to be a difficult medium to use but Hamid employs it to his advantage here.
  • It sheds light on Changez Khan and on the events as they unfold.
  • The narrative. It shows off a well spoken considerate man, a victim of circumstances but who takes responsibility for his actions.
  • The structure. The pacing is good and keeps the reader on her toes till the end.
  • The length. Just the right length to finish in one sittting, but cuts no corner in doing so.
What doesn't:
  • Nothing really. A well packaged read.
Man booker nominated books can be a bit heavy and boring. This one is not. It is fast paced, offers great insight and is relevant in this terrorist ridden times.

Apparently the book made another appearance as a film tie-in version. The screenplay was done by Hamid too. However, I wouldn't bother with it. The original version is the best.

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