Culture

The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid

Two men meet in Lahore, from totally different parts of the world yet connected by an understanding of a country they both know but from very different perspectives . 

They share tea and a meal. 

One comes from Pakistan yet has;  studied,  worked in America and loved an American woman . Erudite, well educated and sophisticated he tells his personal story of the American dream and how it is dashed by events out of his control. 

A man where ambitions and cultural contradictions  come together  he thinks he understands himself well until he travels to South America and is enlightened.  New realities kick in and a self appraisal takes place.  

Although we are introduced gently and sympathetically to his background and beliefs he comes to a conclusion that does not just startle him but also questions our sympathetic reading of him. A contradiction within  a contradiction . 

Poignant,  heart breaking and immensely challenging this book is a mirror to how we see ourselves and others . It is a thriller without thrills but builds a tension that causes you to not want to put the book down . Simple but deep, the story is written in an elegant almost old fashioned prose with the thoughts;  posed,  examined dissected and gently put back in place for you to come to your own opinions. 

Probably, no definitely, the best book I have read this year . Not a new book by any means ( 2007) but one I wish I had read earlier . 

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