Ah, I see I have alarmed you.
Do not be frightened by my beard.
I am a lover of America…’
Imagine, you are sitting in a café in Lahore as dusk settles. A mysterious man who says these above sentences invites you to join him for tea. You get to know him better and better. He is well-educated speaks proper English. He tells you his story about how he experienced the western world as a foreigner.
This story is about a Pakistani man, Changez. He had studied at Princeton, and after his he immediately started to work as a financial analyst. He has a girlfriend named Erica. However, she doesn’t fully commit herself to him because she still misses her old boyfriend who died from cancer.Changez has to go on a work assignment when The World Trade Centre is attacked on 11th September 2001. At first he’s pleased to see that Bush and America are brought to their knees. When he goes back to New York he gets picked out at the customs because they are suspicious after 9/11. He is very angry because he has lived in America for years but he is treated like a foreigner. When on top of that he loses Erica. His western life collaps and he returns to Pakistan. In Lahore he becomes a teacher at the university. He only speaks negatively about America and preaches that everybody has to demonstrate against America. Changez and an American man who accidentally meet are sitting in a Lahore café. He tells him this story. The mood among the men changes. There is tension. Then the true reason for the visit of the American becomes clear…
Reading the book, the author manages to completely drag you into the main character’s story. Particularly, because Changez is talking to you, he’s the narrator. This makes the novel extremely realistic! On the other hand it creates a fighting vibe because Changez gets aggressive towards, and by doing this the reader, logically, will get some shivers.
This Story is told in a very detailed way, you’re reading about Changez’ whole life. Every emotion, every thought he has and everything he goes through. You also get a sort of connection with Changez because he’s talking to the reader directly. This particular way of writing is difficult and not many writers were able to write as realistic as Mohsin Hamid.
Remarkable is that Mohsin Hamid is a Pakistani himself and he writes about a man who doesn’t like America anymore. This is of course a sensitive topic to write about. America and Pakistan don’t have a good relation because Pakistan supports Afghanistan. But Hamid had the courage to write about this subject. This courage of The Reluctant Fundamentalist is in the story about a Pakistani man who makes it in America and then throws it away because he doesn’t want it anymore. He realizes that making it in America wasn’t what he thought it would be.
This extreme theme causes extreme reactions but Hamid has done a good job with his novel. And for those who want to read a different view of 9/11 and see the western world through the eyes of a foreigner, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is well worth reading!