The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamid | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780151013043 Global Overview for this book
Registered by 2of3Rs of Hillsboro, Oregon USA on 4/18/2007
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8 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by 2of3Rs from Hillsboro, Oregon USA on Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Changez, the main character and narrator, tells his story to an American he meets in his home city of Lahore, Pakistan. He tells of coming to the U.S., his life at Princeton and working for a financial institution. He shares his reaction, as a Pakistani in the U.S., to the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. His reaction and response to the attacks tell much about the world, a world that is different than the U.S.'s sometimes myopic and narcissistic way of thinking.
Revealing much with spare and often beautiful prose, I found this insightful and powerful.

Journal Entry 2 by 2of3Rs from Hillsboro, Oregon USA on Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Starting an international book ray for this....it is on its way to istop4books......feel free to message me if you'd like to be included in the ray...

Journal Entry 3 by istop4books from Castle Rock, Colorado USA on Saturday, May 12, 2007
Just arrived today! Thanks so much for organizing smilingheron. I'm finishing up one book and this one is next.

Journal Entry 4 by istop4books from Castle Rock, Colorado USA on Friday, May 18, 2007
Wow! I finished this book last night and it was down to the wire. The ending packed an amazing punch and wrapped up the book nicely. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The book was written in a way that made me feel like I was sitting at a table with an unknown American, the Pakistani and a waiter who kept bringing food and everyone is suspicious of each other -- perhaps mirroring the feelings of Americans and Muslims. The narrative style was totally different but worked very well for me.

Changez studied in the US away from his home and his family in Lahore. He was hired by a top of the line valuation firm and set out, as many recent graduates do, at the top of his game ready to conquer the world. Along the way he falls in love and 9/11 happens. This causes him to have an identity crisis and reevaluate his loyalties and allegiances. He has what for an American would be a horrific response to 9/11 and yet somehow this is explained throughout the narrative. He is a Muslim in New York City at a time when American flags are being flown and American pride is shown everywhere together with a growing hatred towards the countries that harbored the terrorists - including his own Pakistan. It was a difficult situation for a 22 year old young adult to be in. It's only when he meets an old Chilean man that he finally begins to understand what is eating at his core and does something about it.

So, back to the ending. I think it would be fun, if when the bookring comes to an end, we all came back with our thoughts as to how the book ends (if we did it now it would spoil the ending for all other readers).

Will be sending this to next in line in the next couple of days.











Journal Entry 5 by istop4books from Castle Rock, Colorado USA on Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Mailed to Scotland today air mail.

Journal Entry 6 by Drusillamac from Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom on Thursday, July 26, 2007
I have to admit I wasn't very impressed by this book. The writer dwelt far too much on the situation in America and the later stages of the book felt very rushed. The decline of Changez was rather rapid and the situation in his home country did not seem to bother him before he went to America.

Perhaps I'm in a negative mood about bookrings in general at the moment but this was a very forgettable piece of fiction. Reluctant Fundamentalist? Non-existent by the sounds of things.

PMed Emily2 for their address.

06/08/2007 - I have had no reply from Emily2. So I've posted an ISO on the BC forums. This Thursday I am going to Paris for a few days. If she's not replied by the time I get back then I'll move onto the next person.

16/08/2007 - Still no reply from Emily2 so I have moved onto Tarna.

Journal Entry 7 by 2of3Rs from Hillsboro, Oregon USA on Thursday, July 26, 2007
Here are the people who have signed up to be part of the bookring...

istop4books
Drusillamac
Emily2
Tarna
kasenka
iliotropio
okyrhoe
zzz

Journal Entry 8 by Drusillamac from Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom on Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I sent this book to Tarna via air mail today. On a side note, I heard this book has been short listed for the Booker Prize. There must be something I'm missing.

Journal Entry 9 by wingTarnawing from Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Thursday, September 13, 2007
The Reluctant Fundamentalist arrived today, safe and sound. Thanks, Drusillamac! For the postcard, too.
The book looks interesting. However, I do have some other books to read before this one. But I'll be as fast as I can, as always. :)

Journal Entry 10 by wingTarnawing from Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Monday, October 01, 2007
I love the way Mohsin Hamid writes. His sentence is lovely combination of Western straightforwardness and a bit more enhancing not-so-Western (Oriental, if you like) style. And the way the story is told, as a monologue by Changez, also gives the story a nuance that’s not so familiar to us Westerners. Not to me, at least. The American answers Changez, he makes his remarks but we only hear what the narrator is saying. And the waiter comes back and forth but again, the only thing we have is the interpretation Changez gives us. It makes me wonder if we really should trust him. And that, I think, is the point Mohsin Hamid is making. This book makes you reflect your own values, attitudes, and thoughts. Every book should do that.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist brought Continental Divide by Seymour Martin Lipset to my mind. He says, “In Europe and Canada, nationality is related to community, one cannot become un-English, or un-Swedish. Being an American, however, is an ideological commitment. It is not a matter of birth. Those who reject American values are un-American.” At first, Changez is all American; he seems to adore the States. He lives his American dream, it’s his golden opportunity. And he’s accepted as such. He’s the golden boy, the one with a Great Future. After 9/11, however, the attitudes change. Because of his appearances and his ethnic background he becomes un-American, a potential enemy. Well, I’m neither Muslim nor American and I haven’t been to the States since July 2001. But I can’t help wondering if USA is changing or has changed since then. Perhaps what Lipset said is now outdated? Maybe it’s not how you feel about the American values anymore but what others think you’re feeling?
I once took a course on American literature. I learned that names are very important and meaningful in American fiction, they often symbolize something else. Magers and Quinn says, “The protaganist is Changez; his girlfriend is Erica. When, after September 11, America changes (ummm... Erica... Changez... get it?) our anti-hero becomes the reluctant fundamentalist of the title.”—The names count, wouldn’t you say?
I like open endings, they imitate life. Even so, the ending of this novel was quite shocking. There are so many possibilities... Oh, I don’t know.
In any case, the book is great. I loved it. Thanks for sharing, smilingheron!

***
I’ve PM’d kasenka for her address. I’ll mail the book as soon as I get it.
Edit Oct. 2, 2007. Mailed the book today.

Journal Entry 11 by kasenka from Rautjärvi, Etelä-Karjala / Södra Karelen Finland on Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I got this book today, thank you Tarna!

EDIT 27.10.2007 I'm sending the book today to iliotropio. Happy reading!

Journal Entry 12 by iliotropio from Bruxelles / Brussel, Bruxelles / Brussel Belgium on Friday, November 09, 2007
The book arrived safely in Brussels, thanks to kasenka!

Journal Entry 13 by iliotropio from Bruxelles / Brussel, Bruxelles / Brussel Belgium on Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Absolutely wonderful! I loved this book! Amazing! A must read!
Thank you so much smilingheron for giving me the chanche to discover this very special story!
On its way to okyrhoe.

Journal Entry 14 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Thursday, December 13, 2007
Arrived today. Thanks smilingheron for including me in the bookray, and iliotropio for posting it to me! Ευχαριστώ!

I just finished writing a lengthy JE for another post-9/11 book, so let's see what I'll have to say about this one...

Journal Entry 15 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Monday, January 28, 2008
On my first reading of this novel, I thought there was something offbalance (as with Salman Rushdie’s Fury), that this novel suffered from a shaky narrative structure, with regards to point of view. Since the story is so one-sided, I felt it could have been condensed into a short story; at times it just seemed drawn out for too long. After all, can all of this be recited within the duration of a meal at a restaurant and the ensuing walk back to the mysterious American’s hotel?
I too was a young non-American brought to serve the great educational system of that nation, under the guise of a ‘generous’ scholarship package. I’m very grateful for the opportunity, but like the fictional Changez, I could not avoid feeling that "they" were getting a lot more out of me than they were willing to receive/learn from my own cultural wealth. Not only was I excelling at the academic field I was studying, I was simultaneously attuned to the minutiae of contemporary American popular culture. Meanwhile, though, my colleagues could barely pinpoint my country on the map; they also did not care to learn this information, even if for appearance’s sake. One couldn’t help feeling the exchange as being indeed one-sided. So it was easy for me to get into Changez’ skin.
However, I still feel that the mysterious American should have been given an opportunity to speak up more than he does; "that" side of the ideological argument isn't that deeply portrayed.
Anyway, on a second reading I was able to catch some of the subtleties in Mohsin Hamid’s novel. Besides the play on the character names, there are also numerous direct and indirect metaphorical references to Star Wars as well as the crusades, adding layers of meaning to the novel’s theme. And of course the choice of Flight 417 out of all Tintin titles is no random coincidence either.
Another thing I was able to appreciate better on the second reading is the variation in tone between the old and the reformed Changez. When he recounts the past he speaks with the easygoing diction characteristic of American prose. When he is in the Lahori present, his speech bears the idiosyncrasies of post-colonial English.

Journal Entry 16 by zzz from Rakovica, City of Belgrade Serbia on Thursday, January 31, 2008
It's here! Here I have two bookcrossers from the USA visiting me and one of them started immediately to read this book (after only few hours he's already halfway through!)
Thank you smilingheron for organizing the ray and okyrhoe for all lovely cards!

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