The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mohsin Hamid)

This book has been read and enjoyed by two members of staff so far, both of whom highly recommend it.  It has won two prestigious book awards, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award 2008 and The South Bank Show Awards: Literature 2008 and been shortlisted for others all over the world included the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2007.

A synopsis of the book which follows has been taken from Neilsen Book Service:

“At a cafe table in Lahore, a Pakistani man converses with a stranger. As dusk deepens to dark, he begins the tale that has brought him to this fateful meeting…  Among the brightest and best of his graduating class at Princeton, Changez is snapped up by an elite firm and thrives on New York and the intensity of his work. And his infatuation with fragile Erica promises entree into Manhattan society on the exalted footing his own family once held back in Lahore. For a time, it seems as though nothing will stand in the way of Changez’s meteoric rise to personal and professional success: the fulfillment of the immigrant’s dream. But in the wake of September 11, he finds his position in the city he loves suddenly overturned, and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and perhaps even love.”

Mrs Inchenko, administrator for The Old Berkhamstedians,  says:

“A really fast paced book, makes you think about how the views of the ‘western world’ changed towards Muslims following 9/11 and the consequences of that event.  It takes you from Changez’s original excitement with everything ‘Western’ to his growing disenchantment.

I would think a really good book for discussion and debate.”

Mr P Harvey also couldn’t put the book down:

“I’m halfway through but love this book, have read 100 pages in the last two nights, very unusual for me! It is gripping because very hard to predict where it’s heading and it makes you imagine a lot and guess a lot – about the narrator and about the American visitor. It is very quick to read…”

and after he’d finished it, he wrote:

“… it kept me reading as fast as I could to the end, certain that something significant would happen. But it didn’t. You’re clearly supposed to think that something bad is ABOUT to hapen at the end – but you are left dangling . . . a bit frustrating but I admired the way the writer had kept me wanting to know right to the end. The other thing I realised as I read on is that there is (perhaps?) a whole symbolic level that this book is working on. An example would be that this Asian man has a relationship with someone called Erica. Surely short for Am-Erica? The relationship starts well but then Erica becomes very odd and self-destructive. Is that one of the points the book is making? Especially since the narrator is talking all the way through the book to an American visitor. To try to understand more about this deeper level, I’d have to read it again!

Was recommended by Dr.Redman. At the moment, I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.”

Sounds good and a must-read for our times…  Please leave your thoughts and comments here.

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Author: Berkhamsted School Library

Main aims for Berkhamsted School Library • to provide a central resource for the whole school curriculum • to encourage an ethos of enquiry and discovery • to assist pupils in becoming confident and independent learners • to develop research and information skills throughout the school • to offer resources which enrich cultural values and experiences for pupils, as well as have a role in their recreational life and promote reading for pleasure as a lifelong activity

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