When one of my book clubs chose Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist for discussion, I was reluctant to read it. Lately, I’ve been reluctant to read much, other than bingeing on Jenny Colgan’s Scottish romance stories. Somehow I had missed this Man Booker finalist, and was surprised by its powerful message.
Using a dramatic monologue, a speech by the main character, to convey the story of a young Pakistani who parlays his talent and intelligence into a brilliant career but then becomes disenchanted after 911, Hamid creates a long soliloquoy, challenging the reader to examine his or her own underlying bias as the tale develops. Someone in the group mentioned the movie adaptation with the screenplay by the author. Watching it confirmed my impression of the author’s rail against the anonymity of war and business in a big box world without individualism, but it also offered some surprises and a different perspective on the characters than I had imagined.
Over ten years ago, major universities (Tulane, Georgetown, Bucknell, SMU, and others) chose the book as the freshman read for incoming students. Although the book is short in pages, its message is long and timely today, despite its 2007 publication.
Have you read it? Have you read his latest book, Exit West?