The Reluctant Fundamentalist

“The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, by Mohsin Hamid is a book which gets off to a rollicking start. In this work of fiction, Hamid tells us the story of “Changez” by shuttling back and forth between the past and the present. For the most part, the narrative is taut. But, halfway through the book, Hamid starts losing the plot.

Hamid takes us through the multitudes of crises which Changez faces, all pertaining to his life as a young Pakistani man, coming through the ranks in the corporate echelons of the USA. Changez’s life takes a turn for the worse post the 9/11 attacks in the USA. The attack on the Indian Parliament, leading to an imminent war-like situation only worsens things for the protagonist. Hamid also throws in a sub-plot of a love story which is unrequited and juvenile to some extent.

All said and done, in my opinion Hamid barely scratches the surface of the complex quarry he set out to pursue at the outset. The bits about life in Lahore and New York, leave one wanting for more. The almost anticlimactic epilogue is as good as any one’s guess. At close to 200 pages, this is a light read.

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