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The Reluctant Fundamentalist


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About the Author

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.


A Princeton degree, a high-class job, a well-connected girlfriend: immigrant Changez would seem to have it all, until the tumbling of the Twin Towers realigns his thinking. From the author of Moth Smoke, a Betty Trask Award winner. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Hamid's second book (after Moth Smoke) is an intelligent and absorbing 9/11 novel, written from the perspective of Changez, a young Pakistani whose sympathies, despite his fervid immigrant embrace of America, lie with the attackers. The book unfolds as a monologue that Changez delivers to a mysterious American operative over dinner at a Lahore, Pakistan, cafe. Pre-9/11, Princeton graduate Changez is on top of the world: recruited by an elite New York financial company, the 22-year-old quickly earns accolades from his hard-charging supervisor, plunges into Manhattan's hip social whirl and becomes infatuated with Erica, a fellow Princeton graduate pining for her dead boyfriend. But after the towers fall, Changez is subject to intensified scrutiny and physical threats, and his co-workers become markedly less affable as his beard grows in ("a form of protest," he says). Erica is committed to a mental institution, and Changez, upset by his adopted country's "growing and self-righteous rage," slacks off at work and is fired. Despite his off-putting commentary, the damaged Changez comes off as honest and thoughtful, and his creator handles him with a sympathetic grace. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-In a Lahore market, Changez, a Pakistani, is confronting an American spy bent on assassinating him. He manipulates the encounter, seizing the chance to tell his story-and to be heard. His narrative style (monologue, or perhaps an imagined dialogue) can be distracting, but clearly reveals his interior world and motivations. He tells of coming from an upper-crust but financially reduced family, attending Princeton on scholarship, having a romance with a fellow Ivy League student, and winning a job with the most elite of New York financial companies. To succeed, he must focus on the economic fundamentals of companies targeted for takeover while setting aside any concern about the human suffering his analysis will cause. He's willing to do this, and is very much at home in culturally diverse Manhattan, until 9/11, when everything changes for him. Then, Changez rebels. He grows a beard (in solidarity with his culture of origin, not as an indication of religious fundamentalism); though he appreciates the opportunities he's been given, he rejects the role America has been playing in the world; and he returns to Pakistan, where he becomes a popular professor known for activism. He is now, in America's view, an enemy. Multiple culture shocks over a short space of time have shaken this intense young man's life, and his journey is fast-moving and suspenseful. Some readers might not warm to Changez's cold brilliance, ambition, and class-consciousness, but the growth he experiences through college, disillusionment, and engagement with the larger world could capture the imaginations of thoughtful teens.-Christine C. Menefee, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

PRAISE FOR THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST"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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