Bookchica's Reviews > The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
Rate this book
Clear rating

F 50x66
's review
Jun 08, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: all
Read in June, 2008

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, as we all emptied the plane, I saw a family of about 6 - a young boy, bearded, about 20, and women of different ages wearing burkha's - sitting quietly in the center seats not meeting anyones eyes. I remarked to my husband about how horrid they must be feeling, that just because they are Muslims they must have shown up on the security radar for US. Once the aircraft had been emptied out, the family was brought out with about 10 men surrounding them and taken away. We boarded the plane again and went on our way. Once there, we told our friends about our "adventure" and had discussions about racial profiling, heard stories from others about how they had been subjected to profiling. Pro's and con's of racial profiling, US government, security, prejudice, patriotism, terrorism.. I'm sure you can all imagine what was discussed and debated. I remember sympathizing with the family on the plane.

About a week later, I read that the young boy had later been sent to US and arrested on arrival. Allegedly he had gone to Pakistan and had taken part in a terrorist camp. I did not follow the case since then.

Those of you who are still reading this post, thanks :). Throughout the book, as I heard Changez (the young Pakistani protagonist) talk about his life in America, I followed him on all the various issues he tackles in the book. Be it his social identity, his professional acceptance, America's fair treatment to him and his achievements. But as I finished the book, my thoughts forked out to this incident.
I don't know what happened to the boy in the plane. How accurate were the accusations? Did he or why did he join a camp and many questions that went through my mind. Many that would remain unanswered. I did wish Mohsin Hamid had ended the book on a definite note, but then that would have made it more fictional than real in account.

This extremely fluid, unapologetic, frank, point of view had me hooked from page 1. Changez a young muslim, confident, achiever, confused, looking for acceptance, searching for identity, guilty of abandoning family, trying to define his patriotism, enjoying the fruits of his labor - all his layers come through with such clarity. I really enjoyed the narrative style. It flowed naturally. It felt like you were right there listening in on an actual conversation.

Mohsin Hamid has not held back Changez's thoughts to be politically correct, or tried to portray Changez as a victim. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an honest, at times appealing and at times disconcerting, account of a man's internal thoughts, who knows that he may be a few feet away from death and has nothing to lose by telling all.

For more reviews, go to
119 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Gill (new) - rated it 1 star

Gill Hi, I've mentioned your review in mine, if you want to take a look.

DoctorM Thanks. I will.

message 3: by Lpsushil (new) - added it

Lpsushil Good review, you have convinced me to read the book, thanks

Kyra We were doing a lot of garage sale-ing the winter after the 9/11 attacks. We went to one house in east Portland, where an agent was holding an estate sale. Evidently the entire family had been taken away and never come back. They were Muslim. Several children from the evidence of toys and clothes left behind. A grannie who collected Red Rose tea ceramic animals. What happened to them?

Sunny It was nice to read this review. :)
Interesting one.

Shanzy I felt what you felt exactly while reading the book, and how some of my friends have been targets of such things.

message 7: by Bart (new)

Bart Being on the "No Fly List" is because one of the people has been tagged as possible terrorist. They were removed because of this, not for being Muslim. I'm sure that if the person on the no fly list came off the plane, the rest of the family could have gone on.

Reddwhine Very insightful review.

message 9: by Sophie (new)

Sophie Great review!

back to top