Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (NY: Harvest Books, 2008)

hamidA Gatsby for the Post 9-11 World? by Kevin R. Kosar, April 21, 2008

This book shows how a Gatsby-eqsue guy can go from young star in the U.S. to brooding hater of the West.

Interestingly, the fault for this bad turn lies both with the U.S. and with the protagonist. The U.S., he notes, often has messed in other nations’ politics and economies, and the costs have been substantial. Many Americans might be clueless of these things, but those affected remember.

Meanwhile, the protagonist goes to pieces after he chases and loses a girl. He gets sucked into Pakistani nationalism and anti-Americanism, partly, it seems, out of guilt for leaving his family and friends.

The plot structure is, for sure, contrived, and the book’s ending is utterly cheesey. Still, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a quick, and diverting read that often shines with cleverness and beautiful prose.

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