The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamed

Post date: Jan 11, 2016 10:51:11 AM

Liz reviewed this book, which can be found on the shelves, or reserved at, Low Fell Library.

This is a clever book, narrated in the form of a monologue by a young man, Changez, from Pakistan, as he chats to an American stranger in a cafe in Lahore, relating his life story. We learn of his pride in studying at Princeton and then embarking on a high flying career with an elite New York firm.

Changez gives a detailed account of falling in love with a beautiful American girl, Erica, a relationship doomed to fail because Erica is haunted by memories of a former boyfriend who died in his teens. As hints are dropped that his feelings about America have changed it is clear that the stranger is uneasy, as is the reader. There is an air of underlying menace particularly when darkness falls.

The novel can be read as an allegory, with Erica as she is disappearing into powerful nostalgia representing America, unwilling to accept Changez. But read at face value it is a gripping story, making you wonder where it is going, and is certainly a book that makes you think.