Kerfe's Reviews > The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
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's review
Jan 24, 2011

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bookshelves: fiction
Read in December, 2010

The complex and contradictory narrator of this story has a distinct personality, and his words also reveal the characters of those, including his unnamed dinner companion, whose lives have intersected with his.

But something about the book bothered me. The tone seemed, for lack of a better term, cute, or maybe precious, like the author is trying too hard. There's little subtleness to the message.

Certainly his criticisms of the United States have validity. Lack of respect for others, a sense of entitlement and superiority, obsession with money and material things, exploitation of others for personal gain, elimination of personal time or privacy in the service of the bottom line--the demanding, impatient, ruthless American stereotype is often on the mark.

And yet...this young Princeton-educated Rakistani is not so different from any young person, past or present, American or not, in his self-absorbed and -centered view of the world. I think Hamid was trying to open the reader's eyes to a different point of view, but I suspect he's preaching to the converted. Anyone who would even pick up this book would not find anything shocking or even surprising inside.

Did it give me any new or larger insight? Not really.

Is it because I live in New York City that Changez seems so familiar? I don't know.
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Nina Excellent review, Kerfe. I didn't know what all the fuss was about with this book. It started out pretty good and then totally fell apart for me. The main character was very unlikeable and I thought the book was pretentious.

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