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The Reluctant Fundamentalist Paperback – April 14, 2008
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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PRAISE FOR THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST
From the Inside Flap
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 budding romance 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 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.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a riveting, brilliantly unsettling exploration of the shadowy, unexpected connections between the political and the personal.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Changez - I cannot get away from the `change-ling' association of his name - was an ambitious and evidently successful academic immigrant to the US. Maybe, his success at Princeton and in a top consulting company has been a bit too easy to be believable. He plays the role of the young executive with great style, always fitting in, until the events of 9/11 provoke him into reflections and doubts that will eventually lead him back to Lahore. During his time in New York, he is infatuated by a beautiful blond intelligent woman. He courts her gently and respectfully and takes the role of her confidante. Realistic? I am not sure, but Changez eventually is carried away by his emotions resulting in expected as well as unexpected outcomes.
Mohsin Hamid writes this monologue in a fluid, often beautiful and easygoing style. Much more substance is hinted at than provided, leaving the reader with time and space for reflection on the attitudes of immigrants such as Changez attempting to fit in. Probably the most interesting aspect of the novel is the perspective from the outside looking in on American society and its values. (Friederike Knabe)
A Princeton graduate, Changez looks to a future without impediment, newly hired by a prestigious valuation firm. Although missing his family in Lahore, the twenty-two year old fits perfectly into Underwood Samson, New York City embracing him with its cosmopolitan ambiance, a Pakistani deli near his apartment, the occasional taxi driver who speaks Urdu. Returning from a vacation in Greece, where he has luxuriated in the wealth and privilege of fellow Princeton grads, Changez looks forward to a blooming romance with Erica, a wealthy beauty he met on the islands. Outstanding at his job, his single-mindedness and emotional detachment mark Changez as an employee to watch. While the relationship with Erica remains tentative after they return to the city, Changez is willing to wait, inured to the subtleties of male-female attraction by his culture. To his dismay, the once vivid Erica increasingly withdraws into her past with memories of a former lover, escaping into a world of fantasy.
The shock of 9/11 doesn't immediately impact the Changez's life; dedicated, his work is exemplary, although he is ever more concerned with Erica's aberrant behavior. In the aftermath of the tragedy, a brief visit home is a stark reminder of the differences between the two worlds, Pakistan threatened by India, the United States taking no action to protect an ally in the war on terror. Returning to New York from Lahore, Changez finds that the atmosphere has altered, suddenly conscious of animosity directed at him, the formerly welcoming city turned cold, suspicious and vindictive: "I had always thought of America as a nation that looked forward; for the first time I was struck by its determination to look back."
Beautifully nuanced with fragile immigrant hopes and the tragic annihilation of a promising future, the author paints a provocative picture of post-9/11 reality. Changez is filled with rage, caught between cultures and questioning the great country that has so captured his imagination, his perceptions drastically affected by recent experience. A once unlimited future now truncated by circumstances, Changez questions the falsity of dreams and the danger of delusion: "It is not always possible to restore one's boundaries after they have been blurred and made permeable by a relationship." Even his work is suspect, finance "a primary means by which the American empire exercised its power." In this haunting story of unremitted passion and painful self-discovery, the personal and the political collide. Luan Gaines/ 2007.