Customer Reviews for

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Average Rating 3.5
( 219 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Easy and good read, but hard to read well.

From the many poor reviews, I am guessing this one was not for everyone. I'm not totally surprised why though.

The writing is great. He paints a perfect picture of Pakistan, with little details of the heat (because it is hot) or the smell of jasmines. However, this g...
From the many poor reviews, I am guessing this one was not for everyone. I'm not totally surprised why though.

The writing is great. He paints a perfect picture of Pakistan, with little details of the heat (because it is hot) or the smell of jasmines. However, this great writing and story is missed, due to the controversial content.

He is a Pakistani man who lives in America. Went to Yale and is 22 with a fantastic job that pays $80, 000 a year. He has never received less than an A at Yale. So he speaks with aggroance? This aggroance is well-deserved.

The story progresses as he lives in New York post 9/11. What an idenitity crisis for any Middle Eastern in America after 9/11! Living in a land you love, but being called a terrorist constantly!

The story was extremely exciting, because the author places you in the conversation. You are forced to be the constantly neverous American on the other line. And by the end pf the book, like this American who has listened to the narrator's story, you feel ill-eased. Should I agree with him? Or should I hate him?

Many have choosen to hate this narrator. And that is okay. Because in as the story ends, the reader is not told how to feel, they are forced to choose. Meaning, (spoiler alert) the last lines of the book--"Now that I have trusted you with this story, I hope that piece of metal is a busniess card holder." We don't know...is he pulling out a gun? Is he a friend or is he a foe? Are you a friend or are you a foe?

posted by Phia on March 9, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

63 out of 77 people found this review helpful.

A Reluctant Counterpoint to Changez

Customer Reviews
The Reluctant Fundamentalist

135 Reviews
5 star: (44)
4 star: (29)
3 star: (32)
2 star: (16)
1 star: (14)

Average Customer Review
(135 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews
The Reluctant Fundamentalist

135 Reviews
5 star: (44)
4 star: (29)
3 star: (32)
2 star: (16)
1 star: (14)

Average Customer Review
(135 customer reviews)
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A Reluctant Counterpoint for Changez, July 29, 2009
By Wordsworth "David" (Greenwich, CT) - See all my reviews
I am now sipping a regular coffee at a Borders Cafe near Greenwich, CT after finishing your novel. Why is it that I am so disappointed in your literary work? As a Pakistani, you have come to know the best that America has to offer. Were you not admitted to the Ivy League at Princeton in place of a brilliant but perhaps more appreciative even a disadvantaged American citizen? Did you not then receive a high-paying job at a prestigious New York financial firm and send your earnings to your homeland? Did you not fall in love with a beautiful and intelligent, although psychologically scarred, Princeton woman from New York? Did you not enjoy prime business assignments and bonuses at the expense of your American counterparts, who were downsized during an economic downturn caused by 911 in New York? And yet you sympathize with the 911 attackers. Isn't this odd attitude of yours quite curious? It makes me think. You then become an anti-American advocate in your native land. I suppose, we should be grateful to you for your ubiquitous but most expressive, veiled ingratitude. The waitress comes with my modest bill. She smiles at me. But she is, no doubt, merely seeking a higher tip, wouldn't you agree? I will return your novel to Borders and seek my money back. I ask myself why I am so deeply offended by your novel. The greatest offense is perhaps that you have become so enriched by book sales in America of your very, very short novella. Another kindess from America plus such radiant critical reviews -- it boggles one's mind, does it not, at your opportunity and good fortune in America? I must deem your ingratitude an enigma but I see you shaking your head. Why do you seem so surprised by my natural counterpoint? Have you ever asked yourself what your life would be like if you had never left Lahore for America. Can you honestly deal with your fundamental, personal ingratitude as your homeland indifferently harbors our most mortal enemy in its mystic mountains -- a fervant fundamentalist who killed 3,000 innocent Americans working productively in the same business as you in New York, including many working parents who left widows and orphans behind in my home town only 35 miles away from Ground Zero? Did you not know that I volunteered to feed the firefighters and rescue squads there after the pernicious attack by radical fundamentalists on the Pile and then the Pit at the Twin Towers? Forgive me, but I am fundamentally offended by your creative work. Forgive me, yet again, if I urge my fellow American readers through an obnoxious narrative conceit, so like your own, to forsake your novel utterly and deeply urge them not to buy it.

posted by WordsworthGreenwich on July 29, 2009

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  • Posted July 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Through the eyes of a foreigner

    The writer uses the device of talking to someone to tell his story. The tension between leaving his country to study in America then obtain a high paying job right out of school is balanced against his emerging feeling of hatred towards America because the threat of invasion from India into his native Pakistan overwhelms him. The novel's setting is from before the Twin Towers attack through America's invasion of Afghanistan and India's threats against Pakistan. One feels sympathy for the young man torn between his new found income and his family's shrinking wealth.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    N

    N

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    Pool/hot tub

    Wolf

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    Not bad, but not memorable either

    This one did not quite live up to my expectations, to be honest. Not that it was dull or predictable or anything, but yes, over-hyped.

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  • Posted July 22, 2011

    Good Book

    This was a pretty good book. It drags a little but it's still good read and I'm glad I read it.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Worth the Read

    I read this back in 2007 while on vacation. Written with a little bitterness but more hopelessness than anything. It provides a view point but offers no reason or solution.

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  • Posted July 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The good outweighs the bad

    Read this book if you want to understand the moderate islamic point of view. While the title says "fundamentalist," this novel does not describe an evolution into a Bin Ladenesque individual. It does, however, reveal a sort of us vs. them mentality which I think is key to understanding why Americans are so disliked. And also, I think, the flaws in islamic logic (though I'm sure the author would not agree) that make me want to say, "don't you see that you don't make sense??". For example, I find it interesting that the narrator justifies his anti-american feeling when it is very likely that the unique circumstances of his love-life and chosen profession cause his life crisis, not anything inherently bad about the United States itself. Strangely, this rather un-radical book scares me. It makes you realize that as much as we may like to think that there's only a small, radical muslim population we need to worry about, that may not be true. In reality, there may be an underlying resentment toward the United States inherent in all muslims (at least foreign-born), causing just a teensy bit of satisfaction when 9/11 occurred.

    Onto the bad: the plot unfolds through one-way dialogue by the "reluctant fundamentalist" with an American. This dialogue is completely unrealistic and forced because the reader never hears the American speak, yet through the narrator's dialogue, is essentially told his actions. For example, "I see you are reaching into your coat, perhaps for a cigarette lighter?" or "You look nervous, perhaps the waiter is causing you fear?". While maybe that would be normal once or twice in a conversation, extending it for some hundred or more pages is not. Moreover, Hamid gives his narrator a strange and grandiose way of speaking. It's like someone using Shakespearean english in normal conversation. In general, the form and style seemed childish, stilted, and amateur.

    As much as I disliked the writing, I still recommend the book for its ideas.

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  • Posted May 1, 2009

    A Different Approach

    A Pakistani meets an American in Lehore and takes him to a cafe, where he buys him tea, then, as the afternoon passes, other drinks and even a meal. Daylight turns to dusk, then night comes, and, over the course of the hours the two men sit at the table in the cafe, the narrator tells the American his life story. We gradually come to understand the horror of why the Pakistani has turned against America.

    Fascinating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2008

    It Grew On Me

    I bought this book because I was drawn to the cover. And, trying to get back into reading, with no particular preference of style or format, I decided to give it a try. The first few pages slapped a big question mark on my forehead. I kept thinking 'who is taking to who'? But as I continued to read, the words grabbed me like the cover. It wasn't spectacular, but it was an interesting read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2008

    Was I the only one irritated by the style?

    Was it necessary to choose 'attempted' over 'tried' and 'was obliged to' over 'had to' at every opportunity? Although I know it was intended as a character tic, the diction annoyed me. And while I don't require realism, the one-sided conversation format seemed to aspire to it, unsuccessfully. Changez's tone is purely literary. His words could never pass as actual speech.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2008

    The Style is Excellent, Story lacking

    The book is extremely well written, easy and exciting to read. Problem is when you flip to that last page your going to be like, thats it? Still I'd say its worth reading and doesn't take much time to do so. The way it is written is enough to keep your attention, unfortuneatly I found the actual plot somewhat lacking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    Not bad, I didn't care for how he told the story and not giving the American a voice, but a quick read that took less than 3 hours..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2007

    Disappointing...

    The only reason I gave three stars is because the prose is outstanding if one closes one's ears to the tale. Mr. Hamid has skillfully used his English language skills to tell his story, other than that, the story is disapponting and cliche' and I don't see how B&N put that in its unputdownable category. Trust me it is very putdownable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2007

    Disapointed

    I just never felt the book 'took off', I kept waiting for something to happen. I think it left alot of unanswered questions and ended to soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2007

    a reviewer

    This book, BN's second 'Recommended' selection, was very well written and engaging. Some of it was downright inflammatory in the best sense of the word. The reason I gave The Reluctant Fundamentalist three stars is because the ending felt like being shoved off a cliff. The rest of the book is so wonderful, it flows so beautifully and moves so quickly. When you hit the last page, it ends so abruptly, with so little explanation or resolution, that it literally felt like a door slamming shut or a great leap off a high building. The first person, conversational style was a little off-putting at first, but it effectively pulls you in. The characters feel real. But man, that ending... I don't get it. Maybe I missed something.

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    Posted December 21, 2010

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    Posted August 28, 2010

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    Posted March 1, 2011

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    Posted March 3, 2012

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    Posted August 20, 2010

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