Anthony Stidolph
1 minute read
1 Feb 2008
00:00

Short, sharp 9/11 story

Anthony Stidolph

ANTHONY STIDOLPH reviews The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Hamish Hamilton.

CHANGEZ, the central character in this short but exceptionally sharp novel – which centres around the so-called “war on terror” – is clearly of not disimilar background to the author himself.

Transplanted from Pakistan to New York he finds himself living out an immigrant’s version of the American Dream when, as the top student in his class at Princeton, he is recruited by a high-powered firm specialising in the “valuation” of companies. His success story appears complete when he meets and falls in love with Erica, a beautiful if enigmatic Manhatten heiress.

The comfortable order of his new existance is, however, turned upside down by the events of 9/11, the fall-out from which leaves him facing something of a moral crisis. As self-doubt begins to set in we are made to feel the unsease of the narrator as he works his mind back over the events leading up to the present.

It is a credit to the author’s description that Changez’s decision to forgo his promising career and return to Pakistan makes perfect sense.

Provocative and revealing, the book may approach its subject matter from a fairly oblique angle but its brevity and concentrated economy belie the importance of its concerns.