The Reluctant Fundamentalist

by Mohsin Hamid | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 0141029544 Global Overview for this book
Registered by worldbooknight on 2/25/2011
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by worldbooknight on Friday, February 25, 2011
Dear Reader

Welcome to BookCrossing and thanks for being a part of World Book Night 2011, the largest book giveaway in history. 1,000,000 specially printed copies of 25 different books changed hands on March 5th 2011 and began their journey from reader to reader. This book is one of them. World Book Night has joined with BookCrossing to help track these books as they travel. You can be a part of that journey by making a comment in the book's journal here on BookCrossing. Your journal entry can say how you got the book, what you thought of it, your plans for it or whatever else you might like to add.

On BookCrossing you may choose to remain anonymous or join (it's free). If you join, you’ll be alerted by e-mail each time someone makes another journal entry for this specific copy of this book (other copies of the book are travelling with their own ID number. Every copy of every book has a unique ID). It’s all confidential (you’re known only by your screen name and no one is ever given your e-mail address) and spam-free.

Thanks in advance for being part of World Book Night and BookCrossing. And happy reading and sharing.

Journal Entry 2 by worldbooknight at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Friday, February 25, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (2/25/2011 UTC) at London, Greater London United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

This book is being released via BookCrossing on 5 March 2011 as part of the inaugural World Book Night. With the full support of the Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association, the Independent Publishers Guild, the Reading Agency with libraries, World Book Day and the BBC, one million books will be given away by an army of passionate readers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland.

Read and release!

Journal Entry 3 by reverbe at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (3/9/2011 UTC) at London, Greater London United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Released in St Pancras

Journal Entry 4 by bookguide at Wijchen, Gelderland Netherlands on Saturday, March 12, 2011
Waiting at Starbucks in St. Pancras station for my cappuccino last Wednesday evening (March 9th), I glanced down at the stand next to the till. I noticed a book, which I assumed was for sale. Then I realised that it was one of the World Book Night books, which I'd been reading about on the Bookcrossing forum. So I was overjoyed to find it, especially as I live in Holland and was unexpectedly in England, so didn't expect to be able to take part in World Book Night. I didn't even get to see any of the BBC WBN programmes as my husband and sons were watching football. I left another book in its place, one of my husband's favourite detective books about Perry Mason by Erle Stanley Gardner. Not exactly a fair swap, but I will read 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' and pass it on to somebody else.

Journal Entry 5 by bookguide at Wijchen, Gelderland Netherlands on Friday, May 13, 2011
This book is a thoughtful examination on the personal level of why westernised Muslims might consider terrorism against the west, and America in particular. Despite doing his utmost to fit into American society, Changez is nevertheless ultimately rejected and treated with suspicion. The fact that he was always subjected to searches at airports reminds me of my former boss, who originally came from the Lebanon; as a consequence we always had to wait for him to come through the security checks, and this was long before 9/11. As Changez says, noting the students and young professionals on the return flight to the USA, "I found it ironic; children and the elderly were meant to be sent away from impending battles, but in our case it was the fittest and brightest who were leaving, those who in the past would have been most expected to remain." The brain drain benefits the US but weakens and impoverishes countries such as Pakistan.

Equally, "I wondered how it was that America was able to wreak such havoc in the world - orchestrating an entire war in Afghanistan, say, and legitimizing through its actions the invasion of weaker states by more powerful ones, which India was now proposing to do to Pakistan - with so few apparent consequences at home." It is little wonder that the residents of such countries feel resentful towards the USA, particularly when the war is being fought on their territory, and the death of their citizens is treated as little more than collateral damage.

I found the ending rather abrupt and ambiguous, and am really not at all sure what happened. In fact, the whole book is strange, as it is told completely in the voice of Changez, who also retells and reacts to the comments of the unnamed American. It's almost as if he were talking to himself, to his alter-ego, his American self. After all, it is highly improbable that an American would spend so long in the company of a rather pushy man at a restaurant in Lahore. Reading a few reviews, I have also discovered something that I had completely missed, namely that the names of the characters are symbolic: Changez is like changes (not pronounced in the French way as I had been doing), Erica is remarkably like America, Chris(tianity) who / which is dead. In fact, I'm sure there are many subtleties of this book which I didn't notice. The title is also interesting, as it apparently caused no end of trouble when some of the book givers were trying to distribute their World Book Day copies. Many people assumed it was a religious book or contained propaganda for Islamic fundamentalism, and it was considered inappropriate to distribute it ins "sensitive" areas such as an airport or major railway station. In fact, the book does not really touch upon either fundamentalism or religion.

This book would be a great book to read with a book group, raising all sorts of interesting discussion points about the morality of US interventions in the Middle East (or anywhere else for that matter), about the brain drain, cultural imperialism, identity and prejudice.

This book has been released as part of the following BookCrossing challenges:
- The Ultimate Challenge - read and release books, with extra points for a monthly theme
- Reduce Mount TBR (To Be Read) - read and release books on the TBR list since before June 2010. My reading goal is 75 books.
- Pages Read Challenge - read a self-set target number of pages in 2011. My goal is 25,000.
- Set It Yourself Challenge
- 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Challenge

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