The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Movie Tie-In)

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Now a major motion picture
Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize
New York Times bestseller

“Extreme times call for extreme reactions, extreme writing. Hamid has done something extraordinary with this novel.” —Washington Post

“One of those achingly assured novels that makes you happy to be a reader.” —Junot Diaz

At a café table in Lahore, a ...

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Now a major motion picture
Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize
New York Times bestseller

“Extreme times call for extreme reactions, extreme writing. Hamid has done something extraordinary with this novel.” —Washington Post

“One of those achingly assured novels that makes you happy to be a reader.” —Junot Diaz

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 encounter . . .
Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. 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 shifting. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.

“Brief, charming, and quietly furious . . . a resounding success.” —Village Voice

A Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A New York Times Notable Book

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  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist Trailer
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist Trailer  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Elegant and chilling . . . his tale [has] an Arabian Nights–style urgency: the end of the story may mean the death of the teller.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Slender, smart, and subversive.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Changez’s voice is extraordinary. Cultivated, restrained, yet also barbed and passionate, it evokes the power of butler Stevens in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.”—The Seattle Times 

“A searing and powerful account of a Pakistani in New York after 9/11.”—Mira Nair, director of The Namesake

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544139459
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/26/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 1,440,056
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mohsin Hamid

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. He lives in London.


Although he was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, award-winning novelist Mohsin Hamid spent part of his childhood in California while his father attended grad school at Stanford. Returning to the U.S. to complete his own education, Hamid graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He worked for a while as a management consultant in New York, then moved to London, where he continues to work and write.

Hamid made his literary debut in 2000 with Moth Smoke, a noir-inflected story about a young banker living on the fringes of Lahore society who plummets into an underworld of drugs and crime when he is fired from his job. Providing a rare glimpse into the complexities of the Pakistani class system, the book was called "a brisk, absorbing novel" (The New York Times Book Review), "a hip page-turner" (The Los Angeles Times), and "a first novel of remarkable wit, poise, profundity, and strangeness" (Esquire). Moth Smoke received a Betty Trask Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

In 2007, Hamid added luster to his reputation with The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Written as a single, sustained monolog, this "elegant and chilling little novel" (The New York Times) is an electrifying psychological thriller that puts a dazzling new spin on culture, success, and loyalty in the post-9/11 world. The book became an international bestseller, as well as a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection; it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Decibel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and went on to win the South Bank Show Award for Literature.

There is no question that Hamid's unusual life experience, a cross-cultural stew of influences and perspectives, has informed his fiction. In addition to consulting and writing novels, he remains a much-in-demand freelance journalist, contributing articles and op-ed pieces -- often with a Pakistani slant -- to publications like Time magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Independent, and The Washington Post. He holds dual citizenship in the U.K. and Pakistan.

Good To Know

Some fascinating outtakes from our interview with Hamid:

"When I was three years old I spoke no English, but fluent Urdu. We moved from Pakistan to America for a few years. I got lost in the backyard because all the townhouses were identical. I was knocking on the door of the townhouse next to ours by mistake, and some kids gathered around, making fun of me. For a month after that I didn't say a word. When I started speaking again, it was entirely, and fluently, in English."

"I once woke up in Pakistan and found a bullet in the bonnet of my car. Someone had fired it into the air, probably to celebrate a wedding, and it had hit on the way down. That incident set in motion an entire line of the plot of my first novel, Moth Smoke. Without it, the protagonist would not have been an orphan."

"My wife was born four houses from the house in which I had been born in Lahore, Pakistan. But we met for the first time by chance in a bar in London, thirty-two years later. It's a small world."

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    1. Hometown:
      London, U.K.
    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lahore, Pakistan
    1. Education:
      A.B., Princeton University, 1993; J.D., Harvard Law School, 1997
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

EXCUSE ME, SIR, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard: I am a lover of America. I noticed that you were looking for something; more than looking, in fact you seemed to be on a mission, and since I am both a native of this city and a speaker of your language, I thought I might offer you my services.
 How did I know you were American? No, not by the color of your skin; we have a range of complexions in this country, and yours occurs often among the people of our northwest frontier. Nor was it your dress that gave you away; a European tourist could as easily have purchased in Des Moines your suit, with its single vent, and your button-down shirt. True, your hair, short-cropped, and your expansive chest—the chest, I would say, of a man who bench-presses regularly, and maxes out well above two-twenty-five—are typical of a certain type of American; but then again, sportsmen and soldiers of all nationalities tend to look alike. Instead, it was your bearing that allowed me to identify you, and I do not mean that as an insult, for I see your face has hardened, but merely as an observation.
 Come, tell me, what were you looking for? Surely, at this time of day, only one thing could have brought you to the district of Old Anarkali—named, as you may be aware, after a courtesan immured for loving a prince—and that is the quest for the perfect cup of tea. Have I guessed correctly? Then allow me, sir, to suggest my favorite among these many establishments. Yes, this is the one. Its metal chairs are no better upholstered, its wooden tables are equally rough, and it is, like the others, open to the sky. But the quality of its tea, I assure you, is unparalleled.
 You prefer that seat, with your back so close to the wall? Very well, although you will benefit less from the intermittent breeze, which, when it does blow, makes these warm afternoons more pleasant. And will you not remove your jacket? So formal! Now that is not typical of Americans, at least not in my experience. And my experience is substantial: I spent four and a half years in your country. Where? I worked in New York, and before that attended college in New Jersey. Yes, you are right: it was Princeton! Quite a guess, I must say.
 What did I think of Princeton? Well, the answer to that question requires a story. When I first arrived, I looked around me at the Gothic buildings—younger, I later learned, than many of the mosques of this city, but made through acid treatment and ingenious stonemasonry to look older—and thought, This is a dream come true. Princeton inspired in me the feeling that my life was a film in which I was the star and everything was possible. I have access to this beautiful campus, I thought, to professors who are titans in their fields and fellow students who are philosopher-kings in the making.
 I was, I must admit, overly generous in my initial assumptions about the standard of the student body. They were almost all intelligent, and many were brilliant, but whereas I was one of only two Pakistanis in my entering class—two from a population of over a hundred million souls, mind you—the Americans faced much less daunting odds in the selection process. A thousand of your compatriots were enrolled, five hundred times as many, even though your country’s population was only twice that of mine. As a result, the non-Americans among us tended on average to do better than the Americans, and in my case I reached my senior year without having received a single B.
 Looking back now, I see the power of that system, pragmatic and effective, like so much else in America. We international students were sourced from around the globe, sifted not only by well-honed standardized tests but by painstakingly customized evaluations—interviews, essays, recommendations—until the best and the brightest of us had been identified. I myself had among the top exam results in Pakistan and was besides a soccer player good enough to compete on the varsity team, which I did until I damaged my knee in my sophomore year. Students like me were given visas and scholarships, complete financial aid, mind you, and invited into the ranks of the meritocracy. In return, we were expected to contribute our talents to your society, the society we were joining. And for the most part, we were happy to do so. I certainly was, at least at first.
 Every fall, Princeton raised her skirt for the corporate recruiters who came onto campus and—as you say in America—showed them some skin. The skin Princeton showed was good skin, of course—young, eloquent, and clever as can be—but even among all that skin, I knew in my senior year that I was something special. I was a perfect breast, if you will—tan, succulent, seemingly defiant of gravity—and I was confident of getting any job I wanted.
 Except one: Underwood Samson & Company. You have not heard of them? They were a valuation firm. They told their clients how much businesses were worth, and they did so, it was said, with a precision that was uncanny. They were small—a boutique, really, employing a bare minimum of people—and they paid well, offering the fresh graduate a base salary of over eighty thousand dollars. But more importantly, they gave one a robust set of skills and an exalted brand name, so exalted, in fact, that after two or three years there as an analyst, one was virtually guaranteed admission to Harvard Business School. Because of this, over a hundred members of the Princeton Class of 2001 sent their grades and résumés to Underwood Samson. Eight were selected—not for jobs, I should make clear, but for interviews—and one of them was me.
 You seem worried. Do not be; this burly fellow is merely our waiter, and there is no need to reach under your jacket, I assume to grasp your wallet, as we will pay him later, when we are done. Would you prefer regular tea, with milk and sugar, or green tea, or perhaps their more fragrant specialty, Kashmiri tea? Excellent choice. I will have the same, and perhaps a plate of jalebis as well. There. He has gone. I must admit, he is a rather intimidating chap. But irreproachably polite: you would have been surprised by the sweetness of his speech, if only you understood Urdu.
 Where were we? Ah yes, Underwood Samson. On the day of my interview, I was uncharacteristically nervous. They had sent a single interviewer, and he received us in a room at the Nassau Inn, an ordinary room, mind you, not a suite; they knew we were sufficiently impressed already. When my turn came, I entered and found a man physically not unlike yourself; he, too, had the look of a seasoned army officer. “Changez?” he said, and I nodded, for that is indeed my name. “Come on in and take a seat.” His name was Jim, he told me, and I had precisely fifty minutes to convince him to offer me a job. “Sell yourself,” he said. “What makes you special?” I began with my transcript, pointing out that I was on track to graduate summa cum laude, that I had, as I have mentioned, yet to receive a single B. “I’m sure you’re smart,” he said, “but none of the people I’m talking to today has any Bs.” This, for me, was an unsettling revelation. I told him that I was tenacious, that after injuring my knee I had made it through physiotherapy in half the time the doctors expected, and while I could no longer play varsity soccer, I could once again run a mile in less than six minutes. “That’s good,” he said, and for the first time it seemed to me I had made something of an impression on him, when he added, “but what else?”
 I fell silent. I am, as you can see, normally quite happy to chat, but in that moment I did not know what to say. I watched him watch me, trying to understand what he was looking for. He glanced down at my résumé, which was lying between us on the table, and then back up again. His eyes were cold, a pale blue, and judgmental, not in the way that word is normally used, but in the sense of being professionally appraising, like a jeweler’s when he inspects out of curiosity a diamond he intends neither to buy nor to sell. Finally, after some time had passed—it could not have been more than a minute, but it felt longer—he said, “Tell me something. Where are you from?”

Copyright © 2007 by Mohsin Hamid
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 219 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 220 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    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)

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    < Previous | 1 2 . 14| Next > Most Helpful First | Newest First

    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.

    63 out of 77 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Be Reluctant to Read This Book

    This book is awful. It ends where it should begin and The author seems to be very anti-American. I will never read any book this author writes again.

    25 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    The best thing about this book is the title. It's downhill after that. So cliché - brilliant but naive Pakistani gets Princeton education, great job, boodles of money only to discover that capitalism can be nasty. Then 9/11,the political chaos and America is fair game for the 'reluctant.' Hamid's single speaker technique is clever in advancing the idea of quieting the beast (America) - the one-sided conversation seems to be saying to the U.S. 'Shut up and listen.' Don't bother with this title.

    17 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2011

    Arrogant, Flip, and Prejudiced

    A more accurate title would be "The Unreluctant Bigot".

    13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    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 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 he pulling out a gun? Is he a friend or is he a foe? Are you a friend or are you a foe?

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book came highly recommended however when I finally got around to reading it, I realized this book is ruined by a narrator who is not only foolish, but completely selfish. He is given a full ride to Princeton by Princeton. He is given a cushy job in which he earns tons of money and he falls in love with an American girl. Yet, America is evil. After an entire novel in which this man enjoys the fruits America has to offer, he turns around a complains about this country. On top of that, he foolishly falls for a girl who from the very beginning is emotionally unavailable AND does something so demeaning for her that you lose all respect for him. The ending is supposed to be shocking and just ends up disappointing and vague. I would not recommend this book to anyone!

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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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 July 9, 2012

    Disappointed at recommendation

    I do not understand how it is that Pakistanis claim to be invading conquerers and at te same time claim the Indus Valley civilization as their own. I doubt that in their constant insecure wish to be thought superior they even understood the intricate civilization they had destroyed. How do they count both the original civilization that they "conquered" as well as claim to be from rhe conquering race. So spare me when you say that the western world was barbaric when you had sewers.What is more when the author asserts frequently that they were once a rich nation, in this tirade against America, he fails to take into account the amount of freely flowing American support that went into building up the economy of his country. I doubt that they expected this in return. I read somewere rhat panislamism was the root of Pakistans behavior and this book made me feel that it was a fairly accurate sum up. What is more here is an educated man who could have sought to take on the problems in his own country but instead he chooses to put on his blinkers and decry how he has been wronged.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    Interesting, hard to put down.

    This book was not exactly what I expected. As the ending began to take shape, I found myself able to identify less and less with the storyteller. Maybe because of the culture difference, but it seemed the young man telling the story was really biting the generous hand that was feeding him. I had a hard time figureing out what his romance had to do with the rest of the story. I didn't seem to have much to do with anything else. I found myself getting angry with alot of what sounded like assumptions on the narrator's part, like blaming the United States for Pakistan's trouble with India. I wanted to ask about his country's part in hiding Osama Bin Laudin and his being "pleased" at hearing about the attack on our country. I have not stopped thinking about this book since i finished it a couple of days ago. Of course, that very well might have been the author's intention. I read the book hoping to understand the mindset of someone who goes to these extremes in the name of patriotism, perhaps it is beyond my understanding. I did read this book in record time, I found it very interesting even if I didn't catch all of what the author was trying to convey. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the countries we are involved with and how the people feel about our involvment.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2014


    Although there are numerous bad reviews on here I ask that you not be too deterred. This book has some wonderfully written descriptions, a quite intersting way of presenting itself, and a very thorough and engaging story. What I see to be a pretty common reason for poor reviews is that many people do not agree with the narrator/main character. But one does not have to fully agree with a character in order to appreciate their story. This book will put you in a precarious situation where you will have to think for yourself (oh my!) and make decisions about how far you agree and/or disagree with the narrator as well as his American companion. You will be given a rare view into the ideas, upbringings and insights of a terrorist, whom after finishing this book you might not even be sure that's what he actually his. This story also ends on a large cliff hanger where you are left quite uneasy and unsure about what might have actually happened.
    I would personally recommend this book if you are capable of being openminded. This does not mean you have to agree with the narrator as I myself did not fully agree with him, but you will atleast have to see his point of view and learn to understand the events that can lead people down a certain road.
    I would would also like to add a small warning. This book contains a few, almost disturbingly graphic sex scenes so I would not hand this book to a child.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013


    Very anti american and disgusting book.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    The book

    Well i really dont like it so......i think that means you shouldnt..?

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2008

    What a disappointment!

    I have loved the BN picks. This one however really missed the mark. It went...nowhere! The end was the worst of any book I have ever read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Hated it

    Hated it....very anti american,please save your money and buy something else, not worth reading...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Ok nothing what i found was bad but needs some action


    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    A Book you live

    The style and plot are so unique, so real, that you feel you are there; you are the character at the other end of the conversation.
    The history and events wrapped around this story are so real that you feel it is happening now and you are a part of it.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 8, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    An Interesting Point of View

    This book is written so that the reader feels the author is engaged in a private conversation with him or her. The author tells you on a story of a Pakistani man's love, money and politics in New York pre and post 9/11. The tension builds so that throughout the entire novel the reader is uncertain as to his or her relationship with the author and its outcome.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2008

    brilliant writing same old message

    This author is talented. The story is captivating. The same tired lefty message, 'blame America for all the ills of the world',is disappointing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2007


    I have both a natural curiosity and a professional interest of other cultures. This book did not disapoint! It is a wonderful read. I was almost angry at the ending... until I stepped away from it for awhile. When you've finished reading the book, step away from it and think about it. Look at it from the perspectives of all those involved. Why did they all feel/react the way they did?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2014

    A captivating book - I read it in one sitting

    It took me one page to realize that I'd be getting to bed a lot later than usual. To say much more than this would result in a spoiler alert. This isn't a recreational read; your brain will be whirring away non-stop. The only reason for four stars is that the language (mainly the sentence structure)is a bit formal and it might require close attention; once you become used to it, there's no issue. But be warned, it WILL impact you.

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