The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) is a meta fictional narrative by Mohsin Hamid, a British Pakistani Novelist, who spent most part of his life in USA, as a student and later on continued to earn a good living for himself over there.
Hamid has been frequenting between Pakistan and London, and wrote his first book Moth Smoke in 2000. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is his second novel which talks about a Pakistani man who leaves his high-flying and well paid job as an Analyst with a big firm in USA, to return to his war-torn nation, Pakistan.
The central character Changez is torn between his love for his homeland and Erica, a girl with whom he is madly in love with. His failed affair with Erica, a psychologically broken girl who herself has, at one point of time, lost her love and is now sulking and slowly destroying herself in the memories of her dead boyfriend.
Changez’s desire to move back to Pakistan strengthens after his short visit to his country when he feels that it is his country and his family that need him more than he needs a stable career for himself in a land of opportunity, the USA.
His delay in reaching to a decision whether he should leave all behind for which he came to the USA and worked so hard to achieve, or continue to ignore the reality that his ‘foreignness’ is never going to let him adapt fully to the ways of this nation is juxtaposed well by the author.
Another remarkably presented feature of the novel is the way the narrative is presented in the form of dramatic monologue, wherein only the narrator, Changez speaks to an American national who comes to Pakistan to meet him. This other person is never heard of in the first person throughout the book and is a passive listener, however, we are made aware of his apprehensions and motives by the speaker himself from time to time.
The real purpose of this listener is not known till the end and the novel becomes more and more intriguing as to the purpose of this mysterious visitor.
There is danger lurking in the shadows and the reader is alarmed at the turn of the events at the end of the book.
Who kills who? What was the purpose? Why did Changez come back to Pakistan? Did he become a terrorist himself or a sympathizer? What has the American got to do with Changez that made him visit him to Pakistan?
All these questions are answered as the novel progresses.
The book is a quick read, a day or two, and quite intriguing.
I would rate the book with 4 Stars!!
Let me know in the comments section below how you find this book.