The reluctant fundamentalist


By Mohsim Hamid

Published by the Penguin book in 2007,by Hamish Hamilton in 2007, UK

Last-cover page

« Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance ? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard. I am a lover of America… »

So speaks the mysterious stranger at a Lahore café as dusk settles. Invited to join him for tea, you learn his name and what led this speaker of immaculate English to seek you out. For he is more worldly than you might expect; better travelled and better educated. He knows the West better than you do. And as he tells you his story, of how he embraced the Western dream – and a Western woman – and how both betrayed him, so the night darkens. Then the true reason for your meeting becomes abundantly clear…

My comments:

A beautiful and gripping story about society, cultural integration and lost dreams.

In the first pages, we revel in the success of this young Pakistanese high-flyer and yet an imperceptible, agonizing feeling of suspense gradually grabs us as fast as we get more deeply involved in his life.

I greatly appreciate the build-up of the pervading sense of menace and the wonderful ending of the novel.

This is a story of our times.

Be ready to answer such topical questions as how far we can go to suit the values of a different culture without betraying our own’s and what the price to pay will be if we ever have to make a choice.