The Reluctant Fundamentalist

1393 Words6 Pages
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist intertwines several stories in order for the reader to make sense of the post 9/11 world” Pakistani Author, Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is a potent example of post 9/11 literature. The story follows an encounter between two apparent strangers in a Lahore Café: one, a silent and nameless American, the other a talkative and educated Pakistani, Changez, who imposes an array of stories of his experience in America upon “The American”. Recounting his experiences, Changez, and indeed Hamid, reveal much about the patriotic and emotional climate in the USA after the September 11 attacks. Hamid’s multiple narratives help the reader to make sense of the post 9/11 world as the framed narrative can be read as an allegory, with characters symbolic of different facets of America and its relationship with the international community. The action unfolding in the café helps the reader to evaluate the complex cultural tensions and fears of the post 9/11 world. By playing on the suspicion of the reader, Mohsin Hamid attempts to explore imbedded feelings toward both America and the Middle East post 9/11 through a reversal of the usual relationship, providing a muted American character, and an expressive Pakistani one. As soon as the novel begins we are presented with a product of Western prejudices “Do not be frightened of my beard, I am a lover of America” and as the character of Changez begins to introduce himself, we see the convention of the one dimensional Islamic man constructed by the American media slip away. Changez is articulate, polite, and as he reveals, exclusively educated, attending Princeton, and holding modern values “yes, the women, too- are working professionals”. Yet, the lack of information about the “purpose” and “mission” of these two characters takes grip of the narrative and through allusions “not unlike
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