Friday, March 23, 2007

Pg. 69: "The Reluctant Fundamentalist"

Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and attended Princeton and Harvard. His first novel, Moth Smoke, was a Betty Trask Award winner, PEN/ Hemingway Award finalist, and New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has also appeared in Time, the New York Times, and other publications.

His new book, due out next week, is The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

A synopsis, from the publisher:
At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting....

Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite "valuation" firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his infatuation with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.

But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city 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 maybe even love.
Among the early praise for the novel:

'Beautifully written and superbly constructed. It is more exciting than any thriller I've read for a long time, as well as being a subtle and elegant analysis of the state of our world today.'
--Philip Pullman

'A brilliant book. With spooky restraint and masterful control, Hamid unpicks the underpinnings of the most recent episode of distrust between East and West. The narrative is balanced by a love as powerful as the sinister forces gathering, even when it recedes into a phantom of hope.'
--Kiran Desai

'Builds with masterfully controlled irony and suspense... A superb cautionary tale, and a grim reminder of the continuing cost of ethnic profiling, miscommunication and confrontation.'
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review (full review)

'This author’s second novel succeeds so well... [Its] firm, steady, even beautiful voice proclaims the completeness of the soul when personal and global issues are conjoined.'
--Booklist, starred review (full review)

'Clever and elegant... unfinished love adds depth, and an unsuspected measure of tenderness, to his tense, polished second novel.'
--Independent (full review)

'Succeeds in wrapping an exploration of the straining relationship between East and West in a gripping yarn... an elegant and sharp indictment of the clouds of suspicion that now shroud our world.'
--Observer (full review)

'Picks off his ideological targets with the accuracy of a sniper... prods the intellect, quickens the pulse and captures the imagination.'
--Sunday Times (full review)

'A quietly told, cleverly constructed fable of infatuation and disenchantment with America... an intelligent, highly engaging piece of work.'

'The tone is spot-on... a thoughtful and sophisticated novel that has the courage to wear its poltitical conviction on its sleeve.'
--Time Out London

Read an excerpt from The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and visit Mohsin Hamid's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

--Marshal Zeringue