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The Reluctant Fundamentalist

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  35,770 Ratings  ·  4,230 Reviews
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is Mohsin Hamid's thrillingly provocative international bestseller

Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2007

Now a major film directed by Mira Nair and starring Kate Hudson and Kiefer Sutherland

'Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard. I am a lover of America . . . '

So speaks t
Paperback, 209 pages
Published 2008 by Penguin (first published April 3rd 2007)
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Maughn Gregory Stop cheating. Have more respect for this author, your teacher, your fellow students and yourself. You deliberately avoided the challenging work of…moreStop cheating. Have more respect for this author, your teacher, your fellow students and yourself. You deliberately avoided the challenging work of being educated by struggling with a text and thinking for yourself -- not to mention the deep pleasure of reading a work as intelligent and moving as this one. In fact, you have cheated yourself.(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 24, 2012 Prashant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At a Bookstore in India

Sir, I see that you are checking out this book by Mohsin Hamid . I read it a few days back. How did I find it you ask? Well, it was pretty interesting. I found the narration style of the author quite unique. I think that alone was reason enough to make it worth.

Oh, you are getting distracted. I see you are eyeing those shining new book covers of The Hunger Games and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They came out after the movies were released. No, I have not seen the
Jun 08, 2008 Bookchica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
On a flight back to US from India, about half an hour was left to land in San Francisco, everyone was asleep, when we heard the captain speaking over the intercom. All I heard was something about how we were about to land in Japan. In my sleepy state I assumed that something was wrong with the plane and was about to panic when my husband told me the rest of the captain's message. Apparently we were denied entry into United States because a passenger was on their no-fly list.

On landing in Japan,
I've been trying to read some good Pakistani writing in English for a while now. And I'm glad I made an introduction with Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, who earlier wrote Moth Smoke, a novel, which Rahul Bose is now adapting into a film.

Lately, there has been a flowering of young Pakistani writers like Hamid and Kamila Shamsie (Cartography, Salt And Saffron), and in many ways, this is the first literary stirring that the country is witnessing.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist looks at t
Paul Bryant
Oct 22, 2010 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
A real bowl of literary prawn crackers - you eat and eat and they taste of nothing, they're entirely synthetic, like a form of extruded plastic, but you can't stop and then you realise the whole bowl is gone and what was that all about? This is not a good book and yet it was compelling, I can't deny it, a smooth, snaky insinuating monologue which in retrospect and often in real-time spect is a ridiculous tissue of allegory, you've seen all this in other reviews but it's all horribly true - our r ...more
Jul 13, 2007 Sanjay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nine Reasons To Read This One:

Because it’s short, yet evocative: a relief at a time when authors needlessly pile on the pages.

Because it’s hard enough to sustain a distinctive voice for a dramatic monologue in a poem (ask Robert Browning), leave alone an entire novel.

Because the voice is just right – formal without being sombre; precise without being stiff.

Because, unlike in John Updike’s Terrorist, you can empathise with and understand Changez, the fundamentalist.

Because of the delicious ironie
An Open Letter to America

which unfortunately I read late, around 5 years late. Why unfortunate? B’coz I might have liked it or probably loved it since I was a naive reader back then i.e I was into Sheldons and Archers and closer home Bhagats *blushes*. Anyway, I was well aware when this book hit the literary world and took it by storm. A dashing title, a Pakistani author, a reluctant subject, a movie in the making by Mira Nair and that’s precisely the reason I wanted to read the book before watc
Will Byrnes
Mar 24, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: terrorism
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An eerie, quietly powerful story. The structure is simple enough--- a monologue. A cafe in Lahore, and a young Pakistani is explaining to a silent American how he came to be an enemy of America. There's menace there--- something is about to happen, and soon. You're not told why the American is there, or what he does, or quite why young Changez is telling him these things. But there it is. This voice--- educated, articulate, tinged with hostility and faux-bonhomie and self-pity ---speaking into t ...more
Bill  Kerwin
Mar 07, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In one sustained monologue, a young Pakistani named Changez relates his life story to an unidentified American man in a cafe in the city of Lahore. Changez, a Princeton graduate who once worked as an analyst for a Manhattan financial firm, tells us how his optimistic view of America began to darken in the aftermath of 9/11.

I liked this book for its elegant style and outsider's viewpoint, but my favorite part of it is the mysterious relationship between the narrator and his American listener. Te
It is now 2013, and no doubt many Pakistanis like our titular narrator have reason to be suspicious of America, perhaps over secret agreements and drone strikes. I will not deny that, nor claim they are unjustified. But this book is written and set much earlier, in the reign of Bush II, where bile flowed more freely and anti-Americanism was more open everywhere.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is trying to be a political allegory yet also a complex psychological piece, yet it accomplishes neither.
“When my turn came, I said I hoped one day to be the dictator of an Islamic republic with nuclear capability; the others appeared shocked, and I was forced to explain that I had been joking.”

It explores, but only manages to scratch the surface, the question of religious fundamentalist amongst contemporary Muslim youth. No, it doesn't explore it, but makes a joke out of it, through an artificially constructed dilemma of one Changez, a Pakistani expat in the United States, who has turned to "fund
Tea Jovanović
Sjajan... neobican... ima ono "nesto" specificno za autore poreklom iz Indije i Pakistana... sjednom finom notom humora meni veoma dragog... Prava je kupio jedan srpski izdavac, ali je zapao u teskoce i knjiga verovatno nece skoro biti objavljena na srpskom... Za sve one kojima se dopala knjiga Pitanja i odgovori Vikasa Svarupa (Laguna) ili Beli tigar (IPS)
Feb 05, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This is everything I want in a novel. Engaging and somewhat experimental narration and challenging politics. I plan to make a discussion video about this book, so I'll save a lot of my thoughts, but let me say that this was brilliant.

The second-person narration is extremely powerful, as it confronts "you"—the implied American (or Western) reader—and implicates you directly in the events that have taken place in the novel and as complicit with the politics that shaped the landscape that prod
Nandakishore Varma

Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard: I am a lover of America. I noticed that you were looking for something; more than looking, in fact you seemed to be on a mission, and since I am both a native of this city and a speaker of your language, I thought I might offer you my services.

So begins the The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid; a great opening paragraph which catches your eye and which in fact made me purchase this
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 06, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
The story is told in first person as if the narrator is talking to you (he addresses you 'sir') directly. It took me awhile to get used to it because Hamid did not introduce his characters first before starting this narrative.

The plot is simple: Changez is a Pakistani young man who has finished his degree at Princeton, lands a good paying job at Underwood Samson and is having an affair with Erica who seems to be his ticket to full entry to Manhattan's powerful and rich circles. However, 9/11 ha
Dec 28, 2007 Arsalan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Moth Smoke but Hamid falls woefully short of the poetry and inventiveness of his first novel in this hackneyed, boring and utterly forgettable novelette that fails both as a polemical rant against american foreign policy (Rage Against The Machine does a better job and is more believable) and on a more basic human level as a love story. Changez is a pakistani man with western yearnings and trappings, educated at Princeton, and employed by a top american valuation firm when 9/11 occurs. Th ...more
May 11, 2007 atiya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mohsin Hamid also wrote "Moth Smoke," and that brought me to this book--the flashy title could have been ignored. At first, the way he wrote it seemed charming but quickly turned annoying. The story is about a young Pakistani guy who comes to America, goes to Yale, and earns his way to a highly competitive job as a financial analyst. He is in love with an annoying girl. He assimilates and loves his life in America but his outlook changes after September 11. Unfortunately, Hamid doesn't really ta ...more
Lady Jane
Sep 10, 2012 Lady Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The inability to let go of an idealized past is a recurring theme in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Just in the same manner that America erroneously idealizes a pre-September Eleven Utopia in the United States, Erica idealizes her relationship with her deceased boyfriend Chris; likewise, just how America is unable to let go of the past by engaging in blind vengeful tactics against the Middle East, so is Erica unable to let go of her past relationship with Chris and so she recedes i ...more
Iris  Pereyra
I seem to be reading lots of books about immigrants lately. I've had this audiobook in my shelf to read for a while now. For some reason I decided to download it this weekend and couldn't stop listening until the end.
I also think that writing a good review about The Reluctant Fundamentalist is way above my pay-grade, so I am going to use a few adjectives to describe the book and my reaction to it as best I can:

About the book: Enigmatic,Candid, elegant, nuanced, relevant, thoughtful, bitter, powe
Aug 27, 2013 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a lesson in civility. Its pacing is practiced and hospitable. There is ceremony and sublimation. Such is the story of Changez, a Pakistani Princeton graduate and one-time corporate star in NYC, told on a wonderful day in Lahore. His shadowy interlocutor is an American of unknown intentions. The novel offers a modest immigrant's tale. While it is clear there is extreme emotion just under the surface, the notion of any real threat remains uncertain. It is this menac ...more
May 08, 2008 JennS rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I would have enjoyed this book more had I not found Changez's character to be so predictable and hypocritical. He says "I myself was a form of indentured servant whose right to remain (in the US) was dependent upon the continued benevolence of my employer." Lets see, he gets a free Ivy League education, which is annoying in itself as there are so many American students who fall short of his standards, and the few foreigners (at a US university) seem to be the only students appreciative o ...more
Apr 15, 2009 Megha rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviews
'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' is an attempt to give one an idea about what drives youngsters to radical Islamic fundamentalism - a term which has close connotations with political fanaticism, terrorism and anti-americanism. However, Mohsin Hamid has failed miserably. Not only the book was unable to generate a feeling of sympathy and understanding towards the protagonist Changez, it left me pretty convinced that Changez's fundamentalist beliefs are completely un-justified and that he is a hypocr ...more
Supratim Bose
Mar 17, 2016 Supratim Bose rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I had heard so many good things about this book that my expectations went sky high. But, unfortunately the book failed to live up to my expectations and left me disappointed.

The story, in the form of a monologue, is narrated by the protagonist Changez and his audience is an American man who, through in a not-so-subtle way is indicated to be a spy. The meeting takes place in a cafe in the Pakistani city of Lahore, where Changez reveals his "love affair" with America and subsequent "enmity" with t
Oct 28, 2014 Neha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot has been written on 9/ 11, some from a perspective of an American, some from a NRI living there, some from an Afghan, some from a victim, some from a family of the victim. Each crisis, each tragedy affects each of us in very different ways and when multiplied by our current circumstances, affects us accordingly. Then why are all of us expected to react or behave in the same way, why any different reaction is looked as cruel or insensitive. For every war there is a victory, despite the loss ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
So far a total disappointment.
What happened to the brilliant author of Moth Smoke?

This book with his narrator's monologue looks like an attempt to simplify both: literature and points of view.

Even irony seems put here and there without a logic.
And the effect of all these fake attempts to pretend the narrator is really having a conversation with the stereotype of an American businessman in Lahore is really disturbing.

I hope that Hamid is going to surprise me, but still page after page, chapter af
Beth F.
Great title. Amazing start. Abrupt and uncomfortable ending. I could not put this book down.

I seldom pick up a book without first perusing the reviews of others to see if it will be worth my while and this book was no exception. So I will never know whether I’d have spotted the allegorical content of this book on my own had I not been tipped off to it thanks to some internet searches or not. It’s pretty blatant so I like to think I’d have caught on in my own time but I’m long done with school an
Jul 18, 2008 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few decades ago, before publishers felt the need to justify the eight dollar price tags of mass market paperbacks with page counts of 400 or more, a thriller novel could be as tightly plotted as any Hitchcock masterpiece—and lean books like John LeCarre’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold were both global bestsellers and geopolitical commentaries at least as astute as most now forgotten serious non-fiction studies of the Communist Threat. By bloating themselves with romantic subplots and chase ...more
Arun Divakar
Dear Mr. Hamid,

I confess to being prejudiced about the percieved rawness of your work even before I began reading it. The book proved me wrong. There were reviews galore out here that either took you high up to an ivory tower or threw you bodily down all the way from up there. I was for need of a better word 'flabbergasted' about the whole affair and to make matters worse, someone recommended that I must read this book. Off I went digging this up from a pile in a cluttered bookshelf and set myse
Jan 14, 2011 notgettingenough rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-lit
Update: according to The Guardian Erica is an allegory for America. Why can't Erica just be Erica? I don't understand.


Erica is a girl who lives in her head because it is the only place she can be with the person she loves. Of course, there is a price to pay for this.

Unfortunately, this is not the point of this otherwise ordinary book.
Eric Aiello
In light of recent events and controversy, this seemed like an appropriate book to read. Although the title suggested a novel about religious fanaticism, there was virtually no talk of any discrepancy between Islam and Christianity. In that respect, since I was eager for such a discourse, I was mildly disappointed. That said, however, when all was read and done (see what I did there?), I closed the pages of a book I enjoyed very much, one that I thought spoke multitudes. Especially today.

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Mohsin Hamid is a Pakistani author best known for his novels Moth Smoke (2000), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013).His fiction has been translated into over 30 languages, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, featured on bestseller lists, and adapted for the cinema. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, and the Paris Review, a ...more
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“If you have ever, sir, been through a breakup of a romantic relationship that involved great love, you will perhaps understand what I experienced. There is in such situations usually a moment of passion during which the unthinkable is said; this is followed by a sense of euphoria at finally being liberated; the world seems fresh as if seen for the first time then comes the inevitable period of doubt, the desperate and doomed backpedaling of regret; and only later, once emotions have receded, is one able to view with equanimity the journey through which one has passed.” 115 likes
“It seems an obvious thing to say, but you should not imagine that we Pakistanis are all potential terrorists, just as we should not imagine that you Americans are all undercover assassins.” 70 likes
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