THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST Mohsin Hamid
Because it’s short, yet evocative: a relief at a time when authors needlessly pile on the pages.
Because it’s hard enough to sustain a distinctive voice for a dramatic monologue in a poem (ask Robert Browning), leave alone an entire novel.
Because the voice is just right – formal without being sombre; precise without being stiff.
Because, unlike in John Updike’s Terrorist, you can empathise with and understand Changez, the fundamentalist.
Because of the delicious ironies, among them the fact that Changez works in a US firm that evaluates companies ripe for takeover; virtually the first piece of advice he receives is to stick to the fundamentals.
Because Changez’s disillusionment comes about in a nuanced, progressive manner and as such is completely believable.
Because there’s ample evidence of the author’s craft, especially in Changez’s many responses and descriptions while narrating his tale in a Lahore bazaar.
Because yet another example of such craft is that Changez’s ill-fated relationship with the USA is matched by his ill-fated relationship with Erica – without being heavy-handed about it.
Because in less than 200 pages, Hamid creates both a compelling protagonist and a compelling argument.
Worth your while? Should be obvious by now.