Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

 Book: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Author: Mohsin Hamid

The Reluctant Fundamentalist has been one of my overdue reads. I finally spotted it in the Carnegie Mellon Bookstore on a visit to my husband's office, and picked it up encouraged by the significant discounts offered on textbooks. I find I am still reeling under the effect of the three hours I devoted reading it in one-shot.

It is actually an easy one to finish soon --- partly due to its modest length shy of 200 pages; But mostly due to its vastly identifiable narrative, which gets even too close for comfort, repeatedly!Written in first person, it charts the life of a Pakistani immigrant named Changez in New York City, and the irrevocable changes the 9/11 attacks bring for him. Starting out as a princeton-graduated successful financier in New York City, he narrates the extinguishing of his American dream both professionally and personally, and his almost inescapable plummet into something the world would/can only identify as fundamentalism. His initial denial that anything can go wrong, the ensuing tension, doubt, self-reproach and final transition into a dark world outside neon lights of Times Square is described with heart-rending simplicity. It is the inevitability of this evolution, which Hamid conveys so masterfully to his readers, that makes the book so alarming yet so un-put-downable.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a chilling reminder that the emotional debris of WTC attacks extends far beyond ground zero; a poignant message that the fault-lines it created in hearts and minds will take much longer than 12 years to be healed. But it must be done before the fundamentalism takes over the reluctance...

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