I read this book mainly out of curiosity for it's name and the name "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" is quite so apt for the book. The movie release also prompted me to read it. I believe in reading books and then watching movies, as most times the nuances in a book are lost in translation during the making of a movie.
The entire story of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" is a narrative by the main character called Changez a Pakistani man, to a stranger who is an American. The setting of the story is a single evening in a Lahore Cafe where Changez tells the American about his life in America, his love affair with an American woman and finally the reason why he abandoned his life there and returned home.
The entire story is in a monologue format and not once throughout the book do we see any words being spoken by the American. After a while you get the feeling that Changez is narrating you his life's story.
The book is simply brilliant because of the way in which the author has presented Changez's character. How he goes through an inner turmoil and self loathing when he starts enjoying his life in America, but is reluctant to whole heartedly accept the American way of living.
Princeton graduate Changez is very happy with his success and joins an elite financial company in New York, where he prospers and is well liked by his boss. He soon gets immersed in Mahattan's hip social circle and falls in love with his Princeton classmate Erica, who is still pining for her dead childhood sweetheart. He seems to be well on his way to becoming an American.
Then, the twin towers fall. His life changes radically and Changez faces suspicion and hostility from those around him. He makes the chilling admission that his sympathies were with the attackers in spite of his passionate immigrant embrace of the American way of life. This duality in his thoughts is what makes him reluctant.
The books is engrossing and the language is simple. Mohsin Hamid has done a marvellous job and you can clearly understand the thought process of Changez and the dramatic change in him.The climax of the book is taut with suspense.
There are some books and characters that stay with you for a long time, even after you have finished reading them long back. This book is one of them and is a must read for book lovers.