The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist is told from the first-person point of view in the present, as a kind of prose dramatic monologue addressed to Changez’s unnamed guest at a restaurant in the Old Anarkali district of Lahore, Pakistan. With first-person narration there is usually a problem with the reliability of the narrator, and that is the case with this novel. As is the case with Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues, which are much shorter, the speaker not only tells his own story but also gives his readers information that they must weigh and interpret. In effect, there are two stories, the one Changez tells about why he became an Islamic fundamentalist and the account of the interaction between Changez and his listener. Those two stories are intertwined throughout the novel.
Changez’s story begins with his trip to America, where his outstanding record at Princeton University leads to his job with the Underwood Samson company, which evaluates businesses. Before he joins the company, he and some other Princeton graduates travel to Greece, where he falls in love with Erica, who is still recovering from the death of her fiancé, Chris. Jealous of the time she devotes to Chuck and Mike, Changez reveals his incipient anti-American feelings, feelings that deepen after 9/11. He finds his American rivals to be “devoid of refinement,” disrespectful of their elders, and insistent on having things their way. When Chuck mimics his...
(The entire section is 1645 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
Booklist 103, nos. 9/10 (January 1-15, 2007): 50.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 1 (January 1, 2007): 6-7.
London Review of Books 29, no. 19 (October 4, 2007): 25-26.
The New York Review of Books 54, no. 15 (October 11, 2007): 22-24.
The New York Times Book Review 156 (April 22, 2007): 8.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 49 (December 11, 2006): 42.
School Library Journal 53, no. 8 (August, 2007): 144.
(The entire section is 41 words.)