In what ways does The Reluctant Fundamentalist critique post–9/11 America?

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In the Pakistani writer Moshin Hamid's 2007 novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the protagonist, who also functions as the narrator, is a Pakistani living in America when 9/11 happens. Hamid critiques the way Americans rush to judgment—which often involves the racial profiling of Middle Eastern or Arab people—how quickly they resort to violence, and their reflexive, unthinking patriotism.

The protagonist addresses an American in Lahore:

As a society, you were unwilling to reflect upon the shared pain that united you with those you attacked you. You retreated into myths of your own difference, assumptions of your own superiority. (168)

If you recall the time around 9/11, there was a brief period of unity and grief, followed by massive and destructive retaliation against Afghanistan:

The bombing of Afghanistan had already been under way ... I had been avoiding the evening new, preferring not to watch the partisan and sports-events-like coverage. (99)

However, I think that Hamid, and his hero, have always thought that America was like this and that 9/11 merely accelerated these tendencies:

I reflected that I had always resented the manner in which America conducted itself in the world; your country's constant interference in the affairs of others was insufferable. (156)

The book was turned into a film in 2012. You may also want to consult Hamid's book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations, which offers further thoughts on the post–9/11 world.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 13, 2020
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