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The Reluctant Fundamentalist

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  72,167 ratings  ·  6,839 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
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Harcourt
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  72,167 ratings  ·  6,839 reviews

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May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 th
Jun 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Bryant
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, bookers
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
Feb 01, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Bill Kerwin
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it

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
Jul 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jim Fonseca
Although this book is set in Pakistan, it is not translated. The author attended Princeton and Harvard Law School, living a life like that of his protagonist, so I guess we can call this story semi-autobiographical.


The story is told by a young Pakistani man to an American in an extended dialog while they sit in a street cafe in Lahore. The young man tells the stranger his story of attending Princeton and then getting a high-powered job as a financial analyst at a company that gathers informatio
Will Byrnes
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: terrorism
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Generally,I'm a bit wary of Booker nominees,but in this case they got it right.It would have been a lot better if this book had actually won the Booker Prize,instead of merely being shortlisted.

However,the nomination generated quite a buzz,and introduced me to Mohsin Hamid.And oh boy,his first two books were very impressive.

I read it in one sitting,a short and very interesting book,which held my interest from the very first page to the last.It explores a young Pakistani man's drift into extremis
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
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Have you heard of the janissaries?”... “They were Christian boys,” he explained, “captured by the Ottomans and trained to be soldiers in a Muslim army, at that time the greatest army in the world. They were ferocious and utterly loyal: they had fought to erase their own civilizations, so they had nothing else to turn to.”... “The janissaries were always taken in childhood. It would have been far more difficult to devote themselves to their adopted empire, you see, if they had memories they coul ...more
Mar 06, 2014 rated it liked it
“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 fundamentalism 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
Elyse  Walters
I devoured it....
A phenomenal surprise.
Very cleverly written...
Powerful, compelling, (layers of thought), unforgettable....
and absolutely brilliant!!!!!
Garg Ankit
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

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.


of COURSE when I FINALLY have a singular S
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.
Nandakishore Mridula

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
Saadia  B.
The story starts off with a bearded man named Changez sharing his experiences of living in America to a stranger, coincidentally an American citizen, whom he met at a road side cafe in Lahore while having tea with him.

Changez, in his head believes that he belongs to an affluent family, yet frequently talks about the decaying conditions of his family house in Lahore. Went on a scholarship to Princeton University, got into a high end financial corporation and met Erica, the girl of his dreams. Bu
Leo Walsh
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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. ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 28, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Lady Jane
Oct 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 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
Roman Clodia
This is one of those books that I found very readable but which, on thinking about it later, feels less subtle and insightful than I wanted.

The artifice of the 200 page monologue can get a bit tiresome in places, and the too-obvious symbolism of names - Changez embedding the concept of change with perhaps a hint of Genghis?; (Am)Erica caught up in her nostalgia for a lost past leading to a self-harm that also affects the people around her - can make the story and characters a bit simplistic. Ch
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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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