The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Interview

Friday, September 09, 2011

Mohsin Hamid was born in Pakistan but has spent about half his life in the US. In July 2001, he finished the first draft of his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the story of a young global citizen named Changez. He’s a Princeton grad from Pakistan with a blue-chip job on Wall Street. But he struggles to embrace America and its vast opportunities while also keeping his sense of himself as a Pakistani Muslim.

Hamid’s agent, reading the book, was appreciative but nonplussed. “He said ‘Look, I just don't get it. … Where is that [tension] coming from?’" Months later, it became all too clear.

After 9/11, Hamid completely rewrote his novel, setting it before and after the attacks, using them as a way to frame Changez's identity crisis as a Pakistani and Muslim. The book is unsettling: the protagonist reacts to the attacks with a smile of pleasure. But the author hopes the novel will help readers understand how people could celebrate the destruction of others in the name of warfare, religious or otherwise: “I think also it's a reaction that all of us probably, or most of us are guilty of in different contexts.”

Guests:

Mohsin Hamid

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.