Don't let the title fool you. I had to read this book for my book group and I thought it would be a dry tedious book. It's not. It's a short book so I planned to read a couple of chapters then go back to reading another book, but I couldn't put it down. I finished it in an afternoon. The format is a bit unusual. The main character, a Pakistani, relates his experiences before, during, and after 9/11 to an unnamed American visiting his home town.
In The Reluctant Fundamentalist Changez, a young Pakistani man, tells you (the American reader) the story of how he became an American then went home again. After graduating from Princeton, Changez gets a prestigious position with a firm that values companies in preparation for their sales. He earns a decent salary, the respect of his colleagues, and falls in love with an American woman.
After 9/11, things begin to fall apart for Changez. He experiences anti-Arab backlash from 9/11 and (perhaps even worse)overly-PC and almost condescending sensitivity towards him as a Pakistani. When problems in Pakistan affecting his family become too distracting and his romance with Erica, the American girl, comes to a dead end, Changez is forced to reexamine the person he has become.
Although this book is a quick read, it is very insightful. The honesty of the narrator reveals how complicated it can be to have conflicting allegiances.
A quick read, written in the style of a (very one-sided) conversation. I found it easier to follow because it's exactly like listening to an oral story. Hamid's young hero has a very clear voice. It is interesting to listen to him tell about life before and after 9/11 in New York and Princeton and Pakistan. The story holds elements of romance and drama. Anyone with interest in international perspectives of America will also be interested.
Very unusual; narrated by a Pakistani who lived and worked in NY prior to and after 9/11. Different perspective of American life, to be sure... The ending leaves you guessing until the last second--and then continues to leave you guessing.
In an era of paranoia about Middle Easteners, this book strikes a very familiar note. Novels in the second person are relatively rare, and Hamid uses this technique most effectively to have the reader identify with the unnamed partner in a dialogue/monologue that becomes increasingly chilling. I think this is a prime candidate for book club discussions and strongly recommend it.