Author Mohsin Hamid’s haunting performance of his powerful 2007 novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, leaves listeners with much to ponder about their own visceral reactions to the story’s balancing act between peace and paranoia, pensiveness and fear.
Changez is the charming, mannered yet disquieting Pakistani narrator of this first-person story. He’s dining with an unnamed American at a cafe in Lahore, Pakistan, and over the course of the evening, Changez acknowledges and sympathizes with the American’s discomfort at being in a foreign setting—and at having Changez for an uninvited dinner guest.
Changez tells the American about how he left Lahore for the promises of the United States, graduated from Princeton University, landed a job at a highly respected firm and began to feel like he belonged to his adopted country. But after 9/11, fueled by xenophobic rhetoric and misunderstanding, many Americans began to question Changez’s identity and loyalty.
Hamid’s narration marries a sense of calm with the possibility of ill will that begins to crescendo over the course of the novel. Is Changez a threat to the American? By wondering this, are we, the listener, responding in an unfairly distrustful and shameful manner? What is the danger, and how are we participating in it? Hamid’s enlightening new recording highlights the lasting relevance of this provocative novel.