Quicklet on Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist
ABOUT THE BOOK "I wonder now, sir, whether I believed at all in the firmness of the foundations of the new life I was attempting to construct for myself in New York." Americans remember where they were on September 11, 2001, a day that has become a permanent fixture in the calendar. As retaliation for the attack the US launched a war in Afghanistan called "Operation Enduring Freedom" with the goal of dismantling the Taliban. Currently, the Afghanistan war has become America's longest war, even longer than the war in Vietnam. Given the duration of the war and how it began, it is surprising to note that many people in Afghanistan don't know why the war started. Considering that 42% of the population is under 14 and that 72% is illiterate, it's not surprising that this event doesn't register. In addition the scarcity of electricity, also explains ignorance of the event American "foreigners" call September 11th. As a result most people from Afghanistan don't understand why the U.S. invaded their country, causing more than than 12,000 civilian deaths since the war started. The disparity of the two worldviews continues to contribute to the tensions between the two countries. Similarly, the average American knows very little about the Afghani people and the politics of this area. In an Angus Reid Public Opinion Poll half of American respondents said they don't understand what the war in Afghanistan is about. One of the reasons for this might be because the U.S. media doesn't focus on this war as much as on the Kardashians. This tension and lack of understanding creates a perfect opening for The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamad to educate Americans about the other side. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is about a Pakistani living in New York who reevaluates his successful American life after the September 11 attacks. The book's main advantage is that it is so topical. Given the heavy involvement of the U.S. in the Middle East, as well as neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan, it seems no region is more important to American welfare. EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK "Students like me were given visas and scholarships, complete financial aid, mind you and invited into the ranks of the meritocracy. In return we were expected to contribute our talents to your society, the society we were joining. And for the most part we were happy to do so. I certainly was, at least at first." (pg.4) It is worth describing the author's background, which can be found on his website, because it bears many similarities to the main character of the novel, Changez. From the ages of 9 to 18, the author lived in Lahore, Pakistan. Hamid studied at Princeton University and graduated summa cum laude. He then went Harvard Law School. Upon graduation he got a job at the elite McKinsey and Company and used his free time to complete his first novel. This novel, Moth Smoke, took seven years to complete, but became a bestseller in India and Pakistan. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is his second book and also took seven years to complete. On BBC Radio Hamid explains that the reason it took him so long to write both books is that he is figuring them out as he writes them. Quicklet on Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist The Reluctant Fundamentalist is the story of Changez who comes from Pakistan to study at Princeton University. At Princeton he excels and is rewarded with a job at the prestigious valuation firm "Ultrawood Samson." He uses his sign on bonus to pay for a trip to Greece with his classmates. In Greece he falls in love with an all American girl named Erica. He is attracted to her beauty and she is attracted to his old fashioned manners. As he gets to know her Changez finds out that her ex boyfriend, Chris, died of lung cancer a year earlier.