Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday favourite: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I used to live with a fellow bookworm. Granted, his tastes were slightly more intellectual than mine, but we were still able to discuss, debate and enjoy our varying tastes in literature.

Inside the Blue Mosque
A few years back four of us decided to visit Istanbul - to date, one of my absolute favourite cities. It is beautiful! I've never forget stepping into the Hagia Sophia Basilica, or being served Turkish tea infront of the Blue Mosque, listening to the call to prayer and devouring copious amounts of Turkish delight... the real stuff!

But I digress. Fellow bookworm had a love for our local bookshop, Daunt Books, and returned to the flat the night before we left with a pile of books for the trip ahead. As he stood at the door to my room relaying his purchases, one in particular caught my eye: The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid.

As he went away to pack, I hurriedly finished throwing in the necessities for a long weekend in the city, set the alarm for 3am (yes, these were the days of catching early morning flights at bargain prices), and should have turned the light out. Instead, I opened The Reluctant Fundamentalist and was immediately transported to another world.

It's the story of a young Pakistani man, Changez, living and studying in America, and going on to work in a top-rated US valuation firm. He's a success story. With his Princton education behind him, and his life ahead of him, Changez is living the American dream. His professional career takes him around the world, and when the story is written, he's on assignment in Manila. It's September 2001. All of a sudden, Changez American dream takes on a life of its own. As he returns to New York, the city that has become home, he's confronted with a different America. People look at him differently, levels of trust dissipate before him, and when he returns to visit his family, Changez suddenly realises, not only has the world become a different place, but he has changed as well.

This book is spellbounding. I was capitivated by it, engrossed in it, and before I knew it, I'd finished it, leaving myself with only a few hours of shut eye before heading to the airport. But it was worth it.


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post - I'm not sure really why I picked this book up but like you I couldn't put it down and I also thought the ending was intriguing. And.. I agree with you about Istanbul, it's one of my favourite places too, hot and a bit crazy and fabulous! Next time I would like to top it off with a few days on one of the beach spots 0:)