Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Reluctant Fundamentalist



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Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Author: Mohsim Hamid
Pages:184
Yearly Count: 23

The book, this book was as a whole very interesting and intriguing, and I read it in one day (24 hour period). The storytelling brought me into Changez's life and took me to where he was. However, I will warn this is a book where the main character has a chip on his shoulder. Changez is a 22 year old from Pakistan, who graduates from Princeton at the top of his class and gets one of the most coveted jobs in his field. But he becomes disillusioned with his "American Dream" when the twin towers fall and his fears that he does not belong in this enemy nation prevail. The more he is affected by the events of 9-11 he falls deeper and deeper into dislike for America and seemingly everything American.

As much as I enjoyed reading this book, because the writing of it was fully captivating, I did not like to be schooled and preached at.Much of the novel is Changez retelling his time in America to his American tourist stranger-friend visiting Pakistan, he says: your country this, and you do that (referring to Americans). I think this approach is flawed. I do agree that he would have gone through horrid experiences after the attack of the twin towers, as far as people responding poorly to him, and being very angry at him even though he did nothing. I guess I was in the boat for being compassionate about that, but not for blaming the US for his being in NY and graduating from Princeton...which Changez comes to view as if he had been captured and brought here to be a traitor. .

What I will take from it is this: I loved the writing style Hamin used it kept me interested in the whole story, and his characters were lovable and real and it was easy to become emotionally invested in their lives.
Life during this time was extremely difficult for middle eastern folk in the US, especially right after the 9-11 incident. America became sour and angry and channeled their aggressions where it should not have. But, I will not apologize for the brief scene of patriotism that struck after the planes crashed, the flags, the unity, the feelings of brotherhood. Changez was annoyed by this, saying that we to embrace patriotism was to go back in time to WWI, more generalizations. HA!


All in all I would recommend this, but let people know the author is pushy. It is somewhat understandable, but I am not into being shoved either way. I won't be made to hate to hate the US and I won't be made to hate everything unknown. Just be aware of the anti-American sentiment. Some readers will not have a hard time with the views in the book at all, as it is the prevalent mentality that you hear around here (liberal northwest)from bums at coffee shops, and even many people of stature in our communities here. However, because I am not in complete agreement with the author as far as my sentiment about America and Americans, I felt pushed around, or maybe lumped into a generalization, which is seems hypocritical for the author to do since as far as I can tell that is what he fights against.

Interview with the author, Mohsin Hamid: EGO magazine: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Powell's book review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I read this book for the Orbis Terrarum (the whole world) book challenge that I am hosting. It is my title for Pakistan.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist quote:

But as I reacclimatized and my surroundings once again became familiar, it occurred to me that the house had not changed in my absence. I had changed; I was looking about me with the sees of a foreigner, and not just any foreigner, but that particular type of entitled and unsympathetic American who so annoyed me when I encountered him in the classrooms and workplaces of your country's elite. This realization angered me; staring at my reflection in the speckled glass of my bathroom mirror I resolved to exorcise the unwelcome sensibility by which I had become possessed (p. 124).


8 comments:

beastmomma said...

That sounds interesting, but I am confused by this paragraph:

Some readers will not have a hard time with it at all, as it is the prevalent mentality that you hear around here (liberal northwest)from bums at coffee shops, and even many people of stature in our communities here. However, because it is not my view I felt pushed around, or maybe lumped into a generalization, which is seems hypocritical for the author to do since as far as I can tell that is what he fights against.
*********************************
What does the "it" in the sentence, "it is not my view" refer to-- the anti-american sentiment, liberal, the prevalant viewpoint in the community?

I am just trying to understand the full meaning of your review.

bethany said...

sorry...I will try to fix it so it makes sense.

bethany said...

I think I fixed it beastmomma, let me know if that makes sense now. thanks for the heads up!

Trish said...

It's too bad that this one was too preachy. I read another review a few months ago--but I didn't come away from the review having felt like I got a true perspective. Sounds like it could be a fascinating book. I know Americans can sometimes be ethnocentric, but I also think that sometimes other countries only see our faults (My sister is in Argentina and she says that she doesn't offer that she is from Texas anymore because people have such hatred for our current government and president that all she hears is trash). Sad...

bethany said...

trish- I would actually recommend it though...but I want to know for sure what you think of it.


Your feelings are exactly mine right now, does that make any sense? no. Um, I feel like you do about the US...but the problem is that it is trendy to think the US is "uncool". And we all know that trend is hard not to follow. This is the generation of the underdog, the one who as been trampled on...I think it is fine to let the underdog of history speak, but that does not mean we throw out all our previous ideology and grab on to a new one! ahhh...sorry...that is me being preachy now. I was almost a history major, so that is where it comes from.

All that to basically say: amen.

Trish said...

Ha ha! Amen. :)

beastmomma said...

Thanks for clarifying your review. As I was going through your comments, I saw this and wanted to respond:
I think it is fine to let the underdog of history speak, but that does not mean we throw out all our previous ideology and grab on to a new one!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I think it would be good to have history be a balanced story telling of winners and losers, underdogs and big dogs. However, that is a little too naive because those in power often have more resources and platforms with which to tell their stories. This set up makes it tough for underdogs or those with a different perspective to add to the conversation in a meaningful way. Not sure if that makes sense.

bethany said...

beastmomma-
yes, it makes sense. It think now it would be more possible, now that people see a problem. I know the world is never perfect...but we can dream!