The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a work of fiction written by Mohsin hamid in 2007. The story is told from a first-person point of view in the present, and is an intertwined tale of two stories. One of how Changez became an Islamic Fundamentalist, and the other an account of the interaction between Changez and his American listener. The book starts off with our main character, Changez, and his fatefull encounter with an unnamed American at a restaurant in the Old Anarkali district of Lahore, Pakistan. Changez’s story begins with his trip to America in his youth, where he after graduating from Princeton University is drafted by the evaluation firm ‘Underwood Samson’. But before joining the company, Changez a long with a group of other Princeton graduates, including the beautiful Erica, travels to Greece on vacation. Here he falls in love with Erica, but soon after discover that he is competing with Erica’s death fianc�� for her affection. As the plot of the book progresses, Changez story delves deeper into the rift that have so mortally wounded his identity, and it is divulged how exactly the Princeton graduate ended up a fundamentalist in the arms of Islam.

The story takes place around 2001 and the events of 9/11, and is mainly set in the United States and the city of Lahore, Pakistan. The intertwined stories of the book each have their own setting, with Lahore, Pakistan being the setting for the present, where an older Changez encounters a mysterious American in the streets of Old Anarkali , and with the United States being the setting of the past, where a young Changez travels to the states to study at the prestige full Princeton University. Besides the two main geographical settings of the book, the plot also touches upon locations such as Greece and Peru. Interesting to pick up on, is that the author have switched the settings of the two intertwined stories if compared to the general opinion and believe in modern day society. Mohsin Hamid have placed a young Changez in the United States, and without a shadow of doubt, made it clear that it was here Changez were first set upon the road to Islamic fundamentalism and his burning hatred of America. This choice from the authors side voices a subtle believe to the reader, that Islamic Fundamentalism and the deep hatred so many feel for America, is in fact to some extent a by-product of American foreign policies and a creation of the western world.

Mohsin Hamid depicts his main character, Changez as a brilliant man who possesses the qualities of dedication, discipline, compassion, love and loyalty. Throughout the story Changez change rather radically. From the first pages telling us of how he as a young hopeful man travelled to the states to study, and with the hope of one day being able to support and raise the lifestyle of his family in Pakistan to it’s former state.

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