JennS's Reviews > The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
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's review
May 08, 2008

it was ok
Read in May, 2008

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 of the education. He then lands an $80,000 per year job fresh from graduation and is whining about the US Visa program? Also interesting that he would describe Erica's father as speaking with a "typically American undercurrent of condescension" while doling out the same narrative, throughout the entire book, while speaking to his American acquaintance in Pakistan.

I do think that this book is very accurate in its description of how one in Pakistan, and plenty of other countries, are likely to view America. Their society was amazing before the US was around and yet the US is somehow to blame for their own lack of progress in say the last thousand years or so. The spill from candle wax was no biggie in Pakistan but surely would have resulted in a huge lawsuit in the US. As if no American carries a scar that didn't lead to the blaming of a corporation and subsequent lawsuit. I wish that I didn't think that this novel is as spot on as I believe it to be but as long as societies fail and continue to blame the US rather than searching their own souls, I am left about as hopeful for peace as I was after reading Infidel. It is interesting that a character so apparently progressive and informed so quickly judges an entire society of people by the actions of a few or its foreign policy while taking no responsibility for the actions of his own people, his own government, or the select neighboring countries he views as friends.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Patrick Hi Jenn,

I think his point is not to condemn the US but rather to let us see how 3rd world Muslim countries see the US.

I would whole heartedly agree with your assessment if this was a non-fiction book about how best these countries would fix what is wrong with them but its not a non-fiction rather the whole point of the book is for us to see through their eyes how they see the US.

Although Hamid does tilts toward the extremist Muslim professional side, I also think he is not totally ungrateful toward what America has given him. I think if anything it shows the ambivalence that these people have against Americans.

Abigail Spot on!!

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