Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” as Want to Read:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  52,600 ratings  ·  5,674 reviews
At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter…

Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding
...more
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Mariner Books; 1 edition (first published 2007)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Reluctant Fundamentalist, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Diane L
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Susan Zinner
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  52,600 ratings  ·  5,674 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Prashant
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At a Bookstore in India

Sir, I see that you are checking out this book by Mohsin Hamid . I read it a few days back. How did I find it you ask? Well, it was pretty interesting. I found the narration style of the author quite unique. I think that alone was reason enough to make it worth.

Oh, you are getting distracted. I see you are eyeing those shining new book covers of The Hunger Games and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They came out after the movies were released. No, I have not seen the
...more
Bookchica
Jun 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
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,
...more
Paul Bryant
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A real bowl of literary prawn crackers - you eat and eat and they taste of nothing, they're entirely synthetic, like a form of extruded plastic, but you can't stop and then you realise the whole bowl is gone and what was that all about? This is not a good book and yet it was compelling, I can't deny it, a smooth, snaky insinuating monologue which in retrospect and often in real-time spect is a ridiculous tissue of allegory, you've seen all this in other reviews but it's all horribly true - our r ...more
Bill  Kerwin
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In one sustained monologue, a young Pakistani named Changez relates his life story to an unidentified American man in a cafe in the city of Lahore. Changez, a Princeton graduate who once worked as an analyst for a Manhattan financial firm, tells us how his optimistic view of America began to darken in the aftermath of 9/11.

I liked this book for its elegant style and outsider's viewpoint, but my favorite part of it is the mysterious relationship between the narrator and his American listener. Te
...more
Sandhya
I've been trying to read some good Pakistani writing in English for a while now. And I'm glad I made an introduction with Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, who earlier wrote Moth Smoke, a novel, which Rahul Bose is now adapting into a film.

Lately, there has been a flowering of young Pakistani writers like Hamid and Kamila Shamsie (Cartography, Salt And Saffron), and in many ways, this is the first literary stirring that the country is witnessing.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist looks at t
...more
Sanjay
Jul 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nine Reasons To Read This One:

Because it’s short, yet evocative: a relief at a time when authors needlessly pile on the pages.

Because it’s hard enough to sustain a distinctive voice for a dramatic monologue in a poem (ask Robert Browning), leave alone an entire novel.

Because the voice is just right – formal without being sombre; precise without being stiff.

Because, unlike in John Updike’s Terrorist, you can empathise with and understand Changez, the fundamentalist.

Because of the delicious ironie
...more
Will Byrnes
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: terrorism
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
DoctorM
An eerie, quietly powerful story. The structure is simple enough--- a monologue. A cafe in Lahore, and a young Pakistani is explaining to a silent American how he came to be an enemy of America. There's menace there--- something is about to happen, and soon. You're not told why the American is there, or what he does, or quite why young Changez is telling him these things. But there it is. This voice--- educated, articulate, tinged with hostility and faux-bonhomie and self-pity ---speaking into t ...more
Garima
An Open Letter to America

which unfortunately I read late, around 5 years late. Why unfortunate? B’coz I might have liked it or probably loved it since I was a naive reader back then i.e I was into Sheldons and Archers and closer home Bhagats *blushes*. Anyway, I was well aware when this book hit the literary world and took it by storm. A dashing title, a Pakistani author, a reluctant subject, a movie in the making by Mira Nair and that’s precisely the reason I wanted to read the book before watc
...more
Ted
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most contentiously rated novels I've seen here


I'd had the book for 2-3 years probably, when, a couple months ago, I determined that I needed to make shelf space. This was one of a few books I decided to get rid of, even though it was unread. But it was so short, and I had looked forward to reading it ...

So I put it beside books I was reading and would soon read, then picked it up a few nights ago when I was tired but didn't feel like going to bed, and started reading. I’m very glad I
...more
Jibran
“When my turn came, I said I hoped one day to be the dictator of an Islamic republic with nuclear capability; the others appeared shocked, and I was forced to explain that I had been joking.”

It explores, but only manages to scratch the surface, the question of religious fundamentalist amongst contemporary Muslim youth. No, it doesn't explore it, but makes a joke out of it, through an artificially constructed dilemma of one Changez, a Pakistani expat in the United States, who has turned to "fund
...more
Jason
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This is everything I want in a novel. Engaging and somewhat experimental narration and challenging politics. I plan to make a discussion video about this book, so I'll save a lot of my thoughts, but let me say that this was brilliant.

The second-person narration is extremely powerful, as it confronts "you"—the implied American (or Western) reader—and implicates you directly in the events that have taken place in the novel and as complicit with the politics that shaped the landscape that prod
...more
Hadrian
It is now 2013, and no doubt many Pakistanis like our titular narrator have reason to be suspicious of America, perhaps over secret agreements and drone strikes. I will not deny that, nor claim they are unjustified. But this book is written and set much earlier, in the reign of Bush II, where bile flowed more freely and anti-Americanism was more open everywhere.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is trying to be a political allegory yet also a complex psychological piece, yet it accomplishes neither.
...more
emma
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
I FINISHED A BOOK!!

if school books even count.

anyway, i looooved the beginning of this book, and then began to hate it once it used its sole female character as a manic pixie dream girl-esque object for the forwarding of the protagonist's character arc, and then continued to hate it (with an ever-growing hatred) once that only became truer.

tragic, because the ending of this was so cool. if only all that sexism didn't get in the way.

------------
pre-review

of COURSE when I FINALLY have a singular S
...more
Ankit Garg
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid is a short-yet-thought-provoking read about the after-effects of 9/11. It is a first person narrative of a Pakistani Muslim residing in the States, and how his life gets tougher every passing day after the attack.

With a subtle and unique narration style, the book does not fail to impress. The change in the attitude of the protagonist from a moderate Muslim to a hard-core one in the wake of the terrorist attack due to transformations in his personal an
...more
Nandakishore Varma

Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard: I am a lover of America. I noticed that you were looking for something; more than looking, in fact you seemed to be on a mission, and since I am both a native of this city and a speaker of your language, I thought I might offer you my services.


So begins the The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid; a great opening paragraph which catches your eye and which in fact made me purchase this
...more
Dannii Elle
Whilst delivering one man's story, Mohsin Hamid introduces the reader to an entire nation's. This clever allegory defies traditional structure, with its unique narrative style, and transcends emotion, by seeming to produce a severe lack of it. And this frank display of truth invites the reader to query their own.

This is a story everyone feels they have read, in one format or another, but Hamid tears down the boundaries of this known narrative to deliver a truth everyone needs to read.
Arsalan
Dec 28, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Moth Smoke but Hamid falls woefully short of the poetry and inventiveness of his first novel in this hackneyed, boring and utterly forgettable novelette that fails both as a polemical rant against american foreign policy (Rage Against The Machine does a better job and is more believable) and on a more basic human level as a love story. Changez is a pakistani man with western yearnings and trappings, educated at Princeton, and employed by a top american valuation firm when 9/11 occurs. Th ...more
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Supremely interesting and well told, but I'll have to think a lot more about the ending. Still, I'm very glad I read it.
Jonfaith
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a lesson in civility. Its pacing is practiced and hospitable. There is ceremony and sublimation. Such is the story of Changez, a Pakistani Princeton graduate and one-time corporate star in NYC, told on a wonderful day in Lahore. His shadowy interlocutor is an American of unknown intentions. The novel offers a modest immigrant's tale. While it is clear there is extreme emotion just under the surface, the notion of any real threat remains uncertain. It is this menac ...more
Leo Walsh
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first, I thought "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" was a book about a radicalized extremest. That, if anything, reflects my own cultural expectations and prejudices as a American. And just one of the ways that Hamid navigates ambiguity to manipulate his reader's emotions while making them think.

Hamid's protagonist Changez is far from a terrorist. And the titular fundamentalism has zero to do with religion. Instead, it refers to Changez's Yale-educated role as a Wall Street valuation analyst. Wh
...more
Tim O'Hearn
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the Lehigh class of 2016's summer reading book that was supposed to be read before orientation. My mom bought it for me and several times asked me to read it, but that was before I read things and well after the point in my life where I took pleasure in completing optional schoolwork.

During my freshman orientation seminar, my small group had one discussion centered around the book. There was someone from the English department (or some department that wasn't engineering and contained fa
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
The story is told in first person as if the narrator is talking to you (he addresses you 'sir') directly. It took me awhile to get used to it because Hamid did not introduce his characters first before starting this narrative.

The plot is simple: Changez is a Pakistani young man who has finished his degree at Princeton, lands a good paying job at Underwood Samson and is having an affair with Erica who seems to be his ticket to full entry to Manhattan's powerful and rich circles. However, 9/11 ha
...more
atiya
Apr 30, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mohsin Hamid also wrote "Moth Smoke," and that brought me to this book--the flashy title could have been ignored. At first, the way he wrote it seemed charming but quickly turned annoying. The story is about a young Pakistani guy who comes to America, goes to Yale, and earns his way to a highly competitive job as a financial analyst. He is in love with an annoying girl. He assimilates and loves his life in America but his outlook changes after September 11. Unfortunately, Hamid doesn't really ta ...more
Supreeth
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
The reluctant fundamentalist promises a lot, but ends up just so plain, and bland. Firstly, the title is misleading, there's nothing about religion, chauvinism, or fundamentalism. It's mostly, the turmoil of a Pakistani secular muslim, who apparently, is in love-hate relationship with America, and this girl, Erica.
The prose and style reminds me too much of The Fall by Albert Camus, second person narrative, talking to a stranger in a cafe.
I guess the writer didn't want to write anything serious
...more
Lady Jane
Oct 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The inability to let go of an idealized past is a recurring theme in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Just in the same manner that America erroneously idealizes a pre-September Eleven Utopia in the United States, Erica idealizes her relationship with her deceased boyfriend Chris; likewise, just how America is unable to let go of the past by engaging in blind vengeful tactics against the Middle East, so is Erica unable to let go of her past relationship with Chris and so she recedes i ...more
JennS
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 o ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
Jul 30, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, pakistani
So far a total disappointment.
What happened to the brilliant author of Moth Smoke?

This book with his narrator's monologue looks like an attempt to simplify both: literature and points of view.

Even irony seems put here and there without a logic.
And the effect of all these fake attempts to pretend the narrator is really having a conversation with the stereotype of an American businessman in Lahore is really disturbing.

I hope that Hamid is going to surprise me, but still page after page, chapter af
...more
Iris P
I seem to be reading lots of books about immigrants lately. I've had this audiobook in my shelf to read for a while now. For some reason I decided to download it this weekend and couldn't stop listening until the end.
I also think that writing a good review about The Reluctant Fundamentalist is way above my pay-grade, so I am going to use a few adjectives to describe the book and my reaction to it as best I can:

About the book: Enigmatic,Candid, elegant, nuanced, relevant, thoughtful, bitter, powe
...more
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
3.5 Stars

Honestly, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this at all if I hadn’t read it for a class. This opens a lot of discussion and there really IS a lot to unpack here.

But it also slams you over the head with the symbolism??

(Your girlfriend am-Erica can’t accept you until you assimilate and pretend to be someone else? You come to resent the unforgiving firm you work at with its U.S. initials??)

(RTC maybe probably not)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Feasting the Heart: Fifty-Two Commentaries for the Air
  • A Case of Exploding Mangoes
  • The Wandering Falcon
  • My Father's Tears and Other Stories
  • In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
  • Animal's People
  • Man Gone Down
  • The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words
  • In the Country of Men
  • Darkmans (Thames Gateway, #3)
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Lizard Cage
  • The Wasted Vigil
  • The Underground Railroad
  • Thinner Than Skin
  • Mother's Milk
  • Continental Drift
  • I'll Go to Bed at Noon
See similar books…
2,578 followers
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 thirty-five la
...more
“If you have ever, sir, been through a breakup of a romantic relationship that involved great love, you will perhaps understand what I experienced. There is in such situations usually a moment of passion during which the unthinkable is said; this is followed by a sense of euphoria at finally being liberated; the world seems fresh as if seen for the first time then comes the inevitable period of doubt, the desperate and doomed backpedaling of regret; and only later, once emotions have receded, is one able to view with equanimity the journey through which one has passed.” 144 likes
“Time only moves in one direction. Remember that. Things always change.” 103 likes
More quotes…