The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (hier online bestellen)

The story:
The novel is set in a restaurant in Old Anarkali in Lahore. The protagonist or the anti-hero of the novel is precariously named Changez, derived from the barbaric warrior Genghis Khan, who was called Changez in Urdu. Changez engages an American (who possibly is on a mission) in a conversation over a cup of tea (several cups I should rather say). He tells the American about his days at Princeton, which eventually gets him a job at Underwood Samson, a valuation firm. Changez feels that his life in America is like a dream as he describes his first day at office. "This, I realized, was another world from Pakistan; supporting my feet were the achievements of the most technologically advanced civilization our species has ever known."

While Changez should have been happy with what life in America had offered him, inside, there is a deep-rooted resentment about the standard of life in Pakistan compared to that of America. "Often during my stay in your country, such comparisons troubled me. In fact, they did more than trouble me... Now our cities (Pakistan) were largely unplanned, unsanitary affairs, and America had Universities with individual endowments greater than our national budget for education. To be reminded of this vast disparity, was for me, to be ashamed."

Changez falls in love with an American girl Erica, who too reciprocates his love and all seems to working fine for Changez till 9/11 happens. Changez describes the tragic incident in a rather unusual way, "I stared as one - and then the other - of twin towers of New York's World Trade Center collapsed. And I smiled. Yes, despicable it may sound, my initial reaction was to be remarkably pleased." But Changez loses out on Erica, who after being exposed to the trauma and the fear of the 9/11 world, rebounds to her psychiatric problems.

Extract from book:
What did I think of Princeton? Well, the answer to that question requires a story. When I first arrived, I looked around me at the Gothic buildings -- younger, I later learned, than many of the mosques of this city, but made through acid treatment and ingenious stonemasonry to look older -- and thought, This is a dream come true. Princeton inspired in me the feeling that my life was a film in which I was the star and everything was possible. I have access to this beautiful campus, I thought, to professors who are titans in their fields and fellow students who are philosopher-kings in the making.

I was, I must admit, overly generous in my initial assumptions about the standard of the student body. They were almost all intelligent, and many were brilliant, but whereas I was one of only two Pakistanis in my entering class -- two from a population of over a hundred million souls, mind you -- the Americans faced much less daunting odds in the selection process. A thousand of your compatriots were enrolled, five hundred times as many, even though your country's population was only twice that of mine. As a result, the non-Americans among us tended on average to do better than the Americans, and in my case I reached my senior year without having received a single B.

About the author:
Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and attended Princeton and Harvard. His first novel, Moth Smoke, was a Betty Trask Award winner, PEN/ Hemingway Award finalist, and New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was published in 2007. It was a nominee for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and for the Booker Prize. His writing has also appeared in Time, The New York Times, and other publications. He lives in London.

Taschenbuch: 209 Seiten
Verlag: Penguin (24. April 2008)
Sprache: Englisch
ISBN-10: 0141029544
ISBN-13: 978-0141029542

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