Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Reluctant Review

I am reluctant to review Mohsin Hamid's book "The Reluctant Fundamentalist". It is a short novel of under 45,000 words which many will devour at a single sitting. I wish to encourage others to read it, but it would be inappropriate for me to undermine that experience by analysing and therebye describing in detail what it is about or how the subject matter is handled. Yet it would be great to discuss this work with others who had already read it.

In my review of "The Islamist" by Ed Husain, I argued that people like myself who had been brought up to discuss ideas within the Western Political Tradition now needed quickly to get up to speed on a whole range of ideas and understandings within Islam. Mohsin Hamid shows what can happen to an intelligent and able young man with an Islamic background when he comes to absorb both the attractions and complexities of life in the West. It seems to me to provide understandings which help to put some of the tomes I have recently been studying into a clearer perspective.

If I encourage anyone to take up this book and they then come to judge that I have exaggerated my case, then at least I will feel justified in persuading them to have turned to what is by any standards a good read.


Stephen said...

I took very little away from this book. It is an easy read and is told in a very light style. It reminds me of bumping into a boring tourist on holiday who drones on and you wish they would leave you alone.

Harry Barnes said...

Stephen: I think that when I started to read the book that I felt as you did - that it was just one person droning on. But as it was an easy read I kept at it and felt that I had then come to understand why many of those attracted to an active terrorist stance from inside the Islamic community (themselves a small minority) are often those who have progressed as undergraduates and/or professionals. Like the reluctant fundamentalist they have a guilt complex.

Stephen said...

Ah, like the doctors involved in the Glasgow Airport car bomb and the failed 2 car bombs in London.

Harry Barnes said...

Stephen: Thats it, plus many covered in Ed Husain's book "The Islamist".