The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid


At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter…


I remember vividly the feeling of her skin, cool and smooth, on mine. We had never before remained in contact for such a prolonged period; the sensation that her body was so strong and yet belonged to someone so wounded lingered with me until long afterwards. Indeed, weeks later, in my hotel room in Manila, I would at times wake up to that sensation as though touched by a ghost.

What and interesting little book. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from it and was pretty surprised by the ending, which manages to twist the ending of a heartfelt story (quick warning: this might be rather spoiler-ish? I'm not sure because it is hinted at in the blurbs on the book's back, which I haven't read until just now, but I'd rather not know about it, if I were you. Hence I'd advise you to just move on. Now.) into a thriller-like tale.

Frankly, it's rather hard for me to decide how I feel about this book. The narration stile was interesting but I found it strangely unsettling. In hindsight, this makes total sense but it did interfere with my immersion.

The tale itself is, theoretically, rather moving, though I wasn't overtly touched by any of it, a fact you could ascribe to my lack of immersion. I often felt like a lot of the characters were rather brushed over (I barely knew anything about Erica as an individual person), some of the explanation the narrator promises are never really delivered, and, ultimately, I felt like the story walked in a circle. 

If I had to describe my feelings in as least words as possible, I guess what I had to say is: I get why that isn't possible if you want to keep the story's ultimate purpose the same but the ultimate purpose just wasn't outstanding enough for me to brush over the problems of depth I perceived throughout the story.

So I learned to tell executives my father's age, "I need it now"; I learned to cut to the front of lines with an extraterritorial smile; and I learned to answer, when asked where I was from, that I was from New York.


I don't know how obvious this is but I stand pretty much in the middle-ground between "good" and "bad" on this book. Hence: 3/5 stars.


Name: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Deutscher Titel: Der Fundamentalist, der keiner sein wollte
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 209
Where?: Amazon (English edition), Amazon (Deutsche Ausgabe)


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