11 September 2011

HAMID, Mohsin - The Reluctant Fundamentalist

An atmospheric novel that gives the flavour of post 9/11 America.

The novel focuses on a young Pakistani whose family sends him to America and who succeeds in the 1990s American dream. Though different on account of his Pakistani background, he nonetheless finds a place in yuppie America as an elite management consultant. He develops a relationship with an haute bourgeois American woman who, on account of the death of an earlier boyfriend, has developed serious mental problems.

The protagonist is not personally abused by the events of 9/11, but his whole position in the US is rendered psychologically impossible. His girlfriend is institutionalised and he, after failing in his job and finally resigning, returns to his family home in Pakistan.

We learn about the story as the protagonist relates it to an unknown American in a restaurant in Pakistan We are led to believe that the listener is a CIA agent who at any moment will shoot the storyteller or have him deported to the Guantanamo gulag.

The book is an interesting insight into the post 9/11 mindset of a character, who shares two worlds – the yuppie America and an Islamic country.

Published by Penguin 2007