Rob's Reviews > The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
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's review
Feb 17, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: literature, race, read-in-2012, school-reading
Read from February 17 to 21, 2012

** spoiler alert ** (4/10) I guess I liked the idea of htis book a lot more than I did the book itself. The Reluctant Fundamentalist details the conversion of a Pakistani immigrant into a free-market businessman and back again, but it seems to believe a lot more in the former conversion. We get an exhaustive seduction of Changez (yes, that is his real name) to the business world, with the narrative swooning over the perks of high society and making businessmen look a lot cooler and more skill-driven tha nit actually is. Changez is, of course, the best at everything and gets a hot but unstable American girlfriend who has a bunch of problems I never cared about. By the end of this short novel he becomes disillusioned, but this is a lot vaguer than his entry into the business world, almost as if Hamid is afraid to go too far in condemning American capitalism. There's also a troubling focus on authenticity in opposition to immigration: there's no clear reason at the end why Changez can't keep living in NYC and just not work on Wall Street, except that the novel suggests that would make him some kind of traitor.

This would be a bit more forgivable if the novel was well-written, but a particularly aggravating second-person frame narrative and some egnerally awkward prose don't help matters any. This is a nice, well-intentioned attempt at a literary examination of diasporic experience and responsibilities, but ultimately a failed one.

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