Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

This book was one I picked up a few times throughout the last year or so and finally decided to give a try after reading some rave reviews. And while it was a good book, I really wanted to like it more than I did.
The story is told as a single monologue to an anonymous person who the main character, Changez, meets and sits down with at a cafe. Changez is a young Pakistani who is educated in the US (Princeton), falls in love, and is working at a great firm making a great living. But, while out of the country on 9/11, he finds that, upon his return to the US, the way in which he is perceived, and hence, the way he perceives the country as a whole, has changed drastically. He is profiled and experiences prejudices he never thought possible and eventually returns home to Pakistan to find that his perceptions of his homeland have changed as well. He seems to have an almost knee-jerk reaction to what he sees as a typically American snobbery, elitism, and entitlement. So, he becomes...yep, you guessed it! A reluctant fundamentalist.
It's a quick read and an interesting book, catching a glimpse inside the struggles with identity and sense of pride for your home that I'm sure many people experienced in the months and years after 9/11. But, again, I just couldn't really come to care about the character too much and really just found myself wanting to like this book more than I did. Could be a case of just reading it at the wrong time, or could just be the fact that it didn't click with me. Overall, I don't think any of you would really be riveted by this book, but I'm glad I read it. Fulfilled my curiosity and was a pleasant way to spend a few days. Not a glowing review, but they can't all be "Stori Telling"!

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