The Reluctant Fundamentalist: A Novel

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid A short novel concerned with a young Pakistani man (Chancez) in the United States who starts off an enthusiastic and hard working college student before obtaining a good job and very attractive American girlfriend.

It all starts to go wrong after 9/11 – the author parallels the mood in the United States with the collapse of the mental faculties of Chancez’ girlfriend. The obvious conclusion is that after 9/11 America turned in the national equivalent of a suicidal manic depressive suffering from post-traumatic stress, which may not be entirely inaccurate.

The young Pakistani becomes disillusioned with his American life and moves back to Pakistan when he starts to teach (or preach) ‘disengagement’ from the US. All this is fine, but, the manner of the young man’s abandonment of his job I found irritating, the outrage he felt after 9/11 over the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and the heightening tension between Pakistan and India, blamed on American Financial Imperialism, seemed to be to be missing the mark a bit in that what Chancez was describing was Financial Imperialism that just happened to be American.

In all I found that although the idea that poking your nose into other nations business, as indeed the US did, does, and will continue to do so, is a sure way to fire up resentments around the world, the idea that the problem is America specifically did not resonate with me particularly; the author, through the narrator assigns Pakistan (and by inference Islam) the role of injured party in the face of this American imperialism - which I think is not only one-sided but incorrect (but, Ah, we could have a long discussion about that!).