The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I had read reviews of this book earlier and an author interview as well, but never really got around to reading it. Last week I chanced upon it in British Library, and added it to my pile immediately. 

I found it an absorbing read. Over the course of two evenings, I finished this short book. It clocks in at less than 200 pages. 

The protagonist Changez narrates the book in first person as a lengthy monologue. Though his surname is not mentioned anywhere, my subconscious automatically added a Khan to it throughout. I knew about the symbolism in it beforehand (Underwood Samson = US, Erica = America, etc). 

I enjoyed the book but felt it petered out a few chapters after Changez’ startling revelation that he smiled when the Twin Towers collapsed. The best line that struck a chord with me lies on page 64. 

I tried not to dwell on the comparison; it was one thing to accept that New York was more wealthy than Lahore, but quite another to swallow the fact that Manila was as well.

This captured exactly how I felt when I visited Singapore, a tiny island country that attained independence barely forty years ago, but today has leaped way ahead of India in terms of development.

The book is definitely worth a read and re-read. When you have finished it, do check out the author’s website and impressive essays.


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