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Exit West

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  122,507 ratings  ·  14,561 reviews
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whisper ...more
Hardcover, 1st, 231 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Riverhead
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James (JD) Dittes I think it foreshadows Saeed and Nadia's own sexual relationship, which of course represents a distance will be impacted by losing their homes and liv…moreI think it foreshadows Saeed and Nadia's own sexual relationship, which of course represents a distance will be impacted by losing their homes and living abroad as refugees.

I also think that Hamid is using the scene (and Nadia's preference of being covered in a black robe despite her preference for both sex and drugs) to challenge western readers' assumptions about Muslims in general and refugees in particular--they are indeed very normal people who laugh, who have sex, who enjoy drugs the same as we do--who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. One finds a similar dynamic in Nihad Sirees's The Silence and the Roar, which is also about Syria but not at all about refugees.(less)
Susan Zinner I just finished this and liked it well enough. I did think that "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" was much better, however. You might want to start with …moreI just finished this and liked it well enough. I did think that "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" was much better, however. You might want to start with that one? (That's what I did--which meant that I was a little underwhelmed by this one). This book had some beautifully-written prose that could almost make you cry. However, the plot often meandered (which may be the author's point--migrants are often caught in multiple cities and stuck there in circumstances beyond their control).(less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  122,507 ratings  ·  14,561 reviews

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Barry Pierce
I rarely ever do this, but I'm rating and reviewing this even though I haven't finished it. I just cannot continue. Exit West is one of the most bitterly disappointing and downright awful novels I have read in a long while.

The novel begins with Nadia and Saeed, a couple living in an unnamed Middle-Eastern city. This setting and story is what we come to expect from Hamid, who also wrote the flawed but admirable The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The city is crumbling around Nadia and Saeed, blackouts
Emily May
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
“When we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.”

I thought this book was quietly brutal. And quietly beautiful, as well.

If you've come here looking for magical realism, I would advise against it. Exit West contains only the barest of fantastical elements - essentially, metaphorical doors or portals that symbolize the migrant experience. This is not explored in any depth and serves only to propel the characters from their unnamed homeland to Greece, then London, then America.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I want to shove this book into everyone's hands and say, "READ IT." Undoubtedly the best book I've read so far this year and one of the best I will probably read in 2017. Hamid's writing is lush and evocative and so, so beautiful. The story of immigration is incredibly important for today, but it's told in a timeless fashion; the magical realism is done so tastefully and imaginatively and works so well for the story. He probes into the minds of our two main characters, Nadia and Saeed, in such a ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very fascinatingly, I think I would have liked this book more if I had never read the synopsis.

The synopsis makes it sound like we're going to have two lovers who are in a city that is becoming a war zone and then discover magical doors that lead them far away and it's hard but they have each other. That's definitely what happens... but it's also really not what happens. I'd say that's the first third of this book. If I were to give a synopsis it would be: Two people meet and because their city
Larry H
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sam, I have you to thank for this one.

"In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her."

So begins Mohsin Hamid's extraordinary new novel, Exit West . At once both sharply current and dreamily magical, this book is social commentary, fantasy, and an emotion-laded look at how we crave connection even in the most chaotic, the bleakest of times.

While reading this book, all I could thi
Diane S ☔
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
4+. We need more books like this, or no, maybe that's wrong, what we need are more readers of books like this. The country it takes place is unnamed, but one part makes it sound as if it is in Asia somewhere. A country under siege by opposing parties, a country at war with itself, a dangerous place, how so many in this world live in constant danger, constant war.

Saeed and Nadia meet, forge a relationship, when their country erupts in violence, it becomes unlivable. They seek ways to leave, hire
Apr 14, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

What started out to be a gorgeously haunting look at life in a Middle East city at the brink of civil war turned ponderous and perplexing by the end of Mohsin Hamid's slim novel Exit West.

In an unnamed city in an unnamed Middle Eastern country (not unlike the similarly themed Guapa by Saleem Haddad), two young professionals (Saeed, a quiet, pious man who lives with his parents and works for an advertising firm specializing in billboards and bus placards; and Nadia, an enigmatic "bla
Adam Dalva
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book, and can say without hyperbole that it accomplishes one of - or in my opinion, THE - main goal of fiction: it generates empathy that allows us to better understand our world. The story here is a close allegory of the contemporary migrant experience, and the clever use of a surrealist device (I won't spoil it) and the close 3rd realism with which the two leads are drawn makes a deep, lasting impact.

The surreal/real mix is echoed in Hamid's clever mingling of classicism a
Sean Barrs
Exit West had the potential to be the greatest novel published in the last ten years. I don’t say such things liberally; it really did have a certain power due to it being so politically conscious, though somehow it failed to deliver what it could have done.

Let us rewind a little. Exit West begins in an undisclosed east, in a city at war. The corrupt government is subsequently toppled and the new regime isn’t exactly any better. The ordinary citizens, those with no particular political ties, are
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Violet wells
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
There’s a clue early on that Mohsin Hamid posits attachment to place, even cultural identity as skin deep, an adaptation rather than any quintessential expression of identity. Nadia, the heroine, covers herself in black veils but as a defence against predatory or bigoted males rather than as an expression of religious or cultural conviction. Living spaces in this novel are depicted as temporary, transient, replacable. Even national identity is largely a series of acquisitions and adaptations, ra ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: pakistan, british, booker
I finished Exist West almost a month ago and my review will reflect that because I tend to quickly forget details. Yeah, my memory is not that good. It took me a while to write a review due to a combination of hectic days at work and a new kitty at home (our first one).

Waiting so long to review also had its perks as I decided to change my rating from 4 to 3. I did not remain with the impression that it was a book that I would warmly recommend. Also, I was lucky to read the much better Home Fire
Always Pouting
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a country with civil unrest and a brewing civil war, Nadia and Saeed meet one another in their night class. As they come to rely on one another in the middle of the chaos and instability consuming their country, their friendship deepens into a relationship. As the circumstances in their country deteriorate, rumors begin to go around about doors that aren't just normal doors, but doors that can take people to places far away. Eventually things become so dire that Nadia and Saeed decide to them ...more
Elyse  Walters
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Saeed and Nadia are contemporary young adults who come together "in a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet by war".

Nadia is living alone - as a young single female. When she leaves her flat, she wears a flowing black robe over her jeans and sweater which completely covers every inch of her body. This is her choice.

Why would a modern thinking young woman - who rides a motorbike - who attends business classes - who chooses to live alone -
who buys her own pot an
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: published-2017
I read this with very high expectations because of all the hype. I ended up wondering if a lot of the praise it’s received has more to do with its subject matter than its quality as a novel.

Its subject matter is the plight of refugees – without question one of the most potentially moving and pertinent stories offered by the world we live in. But this novel was oddly unmoving for the most part, due to the somewhat anaemic and dispassionate nature of its two central characters. Saeed and Nadia bot
Elle (ellexamines)
“Why do you wear that if you don’t pray?”
“So men don’t fuck with me.”

And I kind of knew I would love this from the moment Nadia said this and then donned a motorcycle helmet and rode off like a bad bitch, but oh my god, this was a really good book.

So this book is a love story, but not the love story you expect. One of the narratives I’ve heard about this book is that its intermingling of the world and of the romance feels muddled, and I understand that; however, for me, this in
Hamid's novels seem to produce extreme reactions. I am in the camp that finds his writing, his perspective, his understanding of human nature, of history, of lovers, of life, and his run-on sentences (see what I did there?) to be magical. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a book I found to be stunning. Almost no one talks about it. On the other hand, everyone read and talks about The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a novel I found to be fine, but not special. Exit West has a great deal more in ...more
Jim Fonseca
This novel is set in a near-future dystopia that, for the folks in the story, is a lot like their existing dystopia. Saeed and Nadia, a young unmarried couple, live in an unnamed war-ravaged country, let’s say, like Syria. They are basically confined by the fighting to their neighborhood, and mainly to their room. They have uncertain electric power and water, often relying on food lines for their next meal. They flee the country as refugees, and make several subsequent trips to other countries, ...more
People are on the move in Hamid’s latest book, south to north and east to west. This strange little novel definitely has the feel of a season of sense8, the Netflix Original production about shifts in consciousness, space, and time. Hamid’s characters, Nadia and Saeed, experience the bending of time and place, as when they leave their own war-torn country on the Asian subcontinent, a “passage both like dying and like being born.”

Hamid’s female character Nadia, who insists on being draped in a bl
Iris P
Exit West

Mohsin Hamid photo p017j094_zpsg5ibtgnd.jpg
Mohsin Hamid - The Author

We are all migrants through time
Moshin Hamid - Exit West


Literature fulfills many roles in our lives. We read to learn about a certain topic, to develop a deeper sense of empathy, in search of enlightenment or just as a pure source of escapism. In Exit West, author Mohsin Hamid pursues a highly idealistic but worthy goal, namely, to give us a story that regards our planet's geography, its borders, and resources i
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-reads
For when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.

Though a thin slip of a novel, Exit West packs a powerful punch cloaked subtly in a quiet but dynamic tale of migration, told in exquisite yet plain language that is thought provoking and soothing and enraging and just plain beautiful. Nadia and Saeed of a unnamed nation are the focal points, and we follow their journey through young love in a country on the precipice of civil war, to unsteady allies as unwanted refugees in
Early in this book about exile, there is a tiny little scene featuring a telescope.

When I read that scene, I immediately thought, yes, looking through a telescope is a perfect metaphor to use in a book that sets out to examine the plight of people whom the majority of the book’s readers may not otherwise see close up.

If I picked up on that minor scene, it was because I'd been thinking about telescopes in relation to another book about exile I'd been reading, Us & Them, which, like a metaphori
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-clubs

My mind is full to overflowing with thoughts about this book. It’s a beautifully written book, although at times it’s overwhelming. And there were parts of it that just totally confused me.

I love how it deals with the fears of citizens trapped in a city torn apart. “...warriors on both sides who seemed content to flatten it in order to possess it.” It takes you so fully into that environment. I loved how the younger generations, for whom cell phones and internet were a given, were laid low when
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Do you ever just feel like you're too dumb for a book? Because I feel like I am way too dumb for this book lol ...more
Peter (on semi-hiatus)
Mohsin Hamid has written a poignant, thought-provoking love story amidst the worldwide turmoil of conflict, disharmony and its horrendous consequences of displacement. These two themes are dealt with in a wonderfully balanced and fluid way, which illustrates Hamid’s clever writing skills, and is a clear observational overview of today's world.

The story initially starts in an unknown Middle-East country (unfortunately, some real countries/cities fit the description). Saeed and Nadia m
Kevin Kelsey
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018, favorites
Posted at Heradas

Mohsin Hamid has created something wonderful with this endearing, and perfectly formed short novel. What an evocative and striking way to discuss refugees, ideological war, tribalism, and love. This book broke through my exterior barriers and nurtured something tender inside of me. It seems for the most part, people are really the same, and we all want the same things regardless of where we come from: security, companionship, and the means to better ourselves. The things we’ve l
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a brilliant and moving read from Mohsin Hamid which provides a critically imperative and timely novel of the urgency of contemporary global issues with the rising tide of displaced refugees and migrants. In beautiful prose, Hamid weaves a personal affecting account of being a refugee with providing a social and political commentary on war, and the deplorable experiences that refugees are subject to in various countries in the west. It begins in the East, a country that to me feels like i ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-book, 2017
Edit - rounded down stars from 4 to 3

3.5 Stars (remains the same)

”In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak for her. For many days.”
In public, Nadia is always dressed in a flowing black robe, covering every inch of her from her neck to her toes. Saeed has a shadow of a beard, stubble, which he meticulously maintains. They are studying corporate identity and product branding, despit
Book Riot Community
Wow. This is such an amazing book, and despite it being set in a near future, it’s completely current. In fall-into-prose, Hamid tells a love story between two refugees, where doors offer escape from their war-torn country. I love how so many authors are using fabulism in their novels recently, and Hamid’s fabulistic doors offer a unique look into the sudden-ness of being forced to leave home. Exit West is such a bittersweet, human story. I recommend reading it in 1-2 sittings; it’s so easy to b ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars really, why is that function not available on GoodReads in 2017? Ha. Anyway, back to the matter in a hand... With Exit West I think Mohsin Hamid does something quite spectacular. At the forefront this is a novel about the refugee crisis, and worlds turmoil, right now (when you read it you'll notice where the books different settings are) yet set in an alternate near now where people can escape through random doors which take them to other countries. It is also a stunning tale of a rela ...more
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Mohsin Hamid is the author of four novels, Moth Smoke , The Reluctant Fundamentalist , How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia , and Exit West , and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations .

His writing has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as winner or finalist of twenty awards, and translated into thir

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