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The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid

Link: The Reluctant Fundamentalist: Mohsin Hamid: Books.

FundamentalistMy wife recommended this book to me. There was a time I recommended books to her, but the other demands of my life have now made her my literary pathfinder. It has lain for some months on the "to read" pile that reproaches me nightly as I take to my bed. I picked it up today to take out to my solitary Sunday lunch (we are separated for some weeks by the renewed prickliness of the Russian authorities about renewing foreign residents' visas). I read it all with such relish that I cannot remember what I ate.

It has been a long time since a book so impressed me. The writing is sparse and melodic. There is a gentle, seductive rhythm to it. It is set in the present day. It is one side of the Pakistani narrator's conversation with an unknown American in a cafe in Lahore. The American's identity and intentions are unknown.

I will not spoil it for you  by revealing the story. I will only say I have never read better prose and that I am torn between admiration, respect and envy. This is an important book. Don't be put off by that. It gave me an insight that is not always easy for a Westerner of my ilk to find. Even if you only usually read non-fiction, or if your reading of fiction does not normally run to "literature", I commend it to you. The author's "voice" is beautifully distinctive and you will learn much that you will be wiser, safer and perhaps even better, for knowing.