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A psychological thriller that spans continents and cultures, The Reluctant Fundamentalist takes us from the privileged confines of Princeton University to the anxious streets of contemporary Pakistan; from the sun-baked Greek island of Santorini to a sanitarium in the Hudson Valley; from the galleries of downtown Manhattan to the highest echelons of American finance. It's a journey we take in less than 200 pages, and without leaving, until the very end, a small table at a modest tearoom in Lahore, Pakistan -- and yet it is a journey that may reveal more about the human realities of the post-9/11 world than a shelf of thick political treatises.
At the table sit two men: a young Pakistani named Changez and an unnamed American. Only Changez speaks, and his mesmerizing monologue relates his story, beginning with his happy days at Princeton and continuing through his initial success as a well-paid financial analyst. His budding romance with Erica, a beautiful fellow Princetonian, runs in counterpoint to the early promise of his career.
Then come the attacks of September 11. Over the next few months, slowly but inexorably, the innocence of Changez's ambition is shadowed by his experience of the unexpected political present -- and by his altered understanding of his Pakistani past. As his career crumbles and Erica is consumed by her own demons, Changez's sense of his identity fractures under the strain of conflicting impulses of pride, passion, and loyalty. He returns to his homeland, and the complexity of his new life there is reflected in the alternating currents of his voice — ingratiating, insinuating, articulate, respectful, blunt, affecting, and, last but not least, sinister -- as he leads his companion toward an uncertain yet ominous conclusion.
An extraordinary work of empathy and imagination, Mohsin Hamid's novel vividly dramatizes the turmoil and terror of today's world in a single, unforgettable voice.
From Our Booksellers
Crisp and compelling…with an ending that will certainly encourage discussion…. A quick read that will have a long, lingering impact." —Melissa Willits, Carmel, IN
Truly a work of genius.... Nothing is black and white in this world and Hamid doesn't let us forget that. —Diane Carr, Chestnut Hill, MA
Controversial and eye-opening. I finished the book in one sitting. —Tim Baldwin, Houston, TX
A terrifying look at the very thin line between us and them. —Sandra Guerfi, White Plains, NY
Insightful, timely, and unsettling. This book puts a human face on a currently demonized culture. —Teresa Patek, Crystal Lake, IL