Monday, August 25, 2008

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a very unusual story of a young Pakistani man, Changez, and the impact that 9-11 has on his life. Changez was a Princeton graduate and immediately hired by a very prestigious firm in NY. While living in NY, he developed a relationship with Erica, a unstable, but very outgoing girl. Changez enjoyed the American (NY American) lifestyle until the attacks on the Twin Towers when the native New Yorkers began to treat him differently because he was Muslim. He no longer felt like he “fit in.” He quickly became disillusioned with the U.S. because of their lack of support to Pakistan against rising problems with India.

Although, this novel is reviewed more as dealing with the anti-American concerns, I was pulled more toward Changez's deep affection for Erica and her emotional disorders. Erica was suffering, emotionally and physically, from the death of her boyfriend. Changez seem to be as distraught by his not being able to help Erica through these emotional problems as he was with the political issues. He eventually comes to term with the fact that he has lost Erica and becomes so disillusioned with the US, he doesn't want to live here anymore.

The story is beautifully written, a conversation between two people at a cafe in Pakistan, where you only hear one of the characters speak. The novel does leave you hanging about what really does happen in the end. The viewer's perspective on many different details throughout the novel affect the ending. Excellent discussion novel!

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