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Follow her as she prepares and partakes the "bread for the stomach" in http://beforesixdiet.blogspot.com/ . And while you are full at it, she offers you the "bread for the soul" in her travels by foot and by thoughts in http://footandfire.blogspot.com/ Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
By Mohsin Hamid
Novel, 184 pages

I like the title of this book so I gave it a chance when a fellow bookwormie recommended it. When I started, I already liked the rhythm of this book, and I finished it in a two or three sittings. It is just long enough to tell everything and short enough to hold the interest of the reader. I came to enjoy and appreciate the literary devices employed by the writer.

The speaker has a gentlemanly way of speaking, a Pakistani trait, which makes him endearing to readers and entertaining to the American guest he was talking to. The speaker's voice only tells us that he is back to the fundamentals of his own birthplace. But of course, he is opposed to violence but believes in freedom of expression when he returned to his homeland, a trait he got from his sojourn in America. The relationship that was created between the speaker and the guest in a day is hard to ignore though in the end the speaker has to give him away, but at least the guest, i believe, understands why he was being given away.

This is one fine fiction weaving the hard realities of the East and West conflict after 9/11, that after 9/11, Afghanistan was also bombed creating hurt to the Afghans (Check out my blog on The Bookseller of Kabul, nonfiction) and also affecting the political milieu of Pakistan and India. Paralleling the destruction of 9/11 is the relationship of Changez, the speaker, to his love interest in New York, Erica. The justapoxed personal and political realities and beliefs strengthen the thesis of the novel: A good relationship once nurtured between two persons or two countries will not be entirely forgotten even if one finally leaves the other. There is care, there is humanity, there is empathy, there is love, and perhaps, that is the road to understanding and accepting differences and to perhaps achieving world peace.

Since I have shifted to nonfiction these days, I appreciated a few fiction and this one, I so love the storytelling which gives us another perspective on the events following the 9/11 especially on the Muslim countries. Deaths and wars diminish us as human beings, as a nation, as a civilization.

The turn-out of the speaker's relationship with Erica is a beautiful painful attempt to fully explain the relationship of East and West. In the end, the speaker tries to live by the memory of and possibilities with Erica just as he tries to lead his students to oppose violence and espouse the democratic right to express political views.   

Now, I think I am ready to see the movie version.

I don't know but Sophie's World by Jostein Gaardner I read a long time ago pops through my mind as I write this. Maybe because it's an Alice in wonderland storytelling but actually I enjoyed it because it tells of the long history of philosophy. Perhaps, the same pleasure nerve of my brain on reading just lit up anew.