Monday, August 20, 2007

The Reluctant New Yorker

As you tackle the opening paragraph you sigh a little, because this novella is written entirely in the first and second person, rehearsing in real time just one half a conversation taking place over dinner in a market stall in Lahore. So often Booker judges seem to go for the oddball voice, which palls after a couple of chapters and then simply irritates.

But your sigh is misplaced, because in this case the undeniably severe boundaries of time/place/person to which Hamid has submitted create a narrow, pure form which he carves, a master sculptor, into a compelling cul-de-sac of a narrative.

Lahore, Princeton, Manhattan, Lahore. Warring cultures. Our own contemporary nightmare. And less convincingly, a rather sad little cross-cultural love story that goes all wrong. Take you an hour and a half to read these 190 brief pages, longer to try to decide whose side you're on.

Booker 2007 Long List
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.

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