The Reluctant Fundamentalist was short listed for the Booker Prize in 2007. It follows Changez, a Muslim from a once wealthy family in Pakistan, as he moves to America to take up a place at Princeton, and then onto a high-flying finance job in New York.
Changez relates his story to an unknown American over a meal, back in his home town of Lahore. I found this writing style slightly irritating at first, and although I could never say that I liked it, by the end I realise how important it was for the book.
The story takes place over the events of September 11th, and we see how reactions to Pakistanis in America, change after this event. The book contains many challenging ideas about prejudice and racism. It is very relevant to the world today, and although I think the book will age fairly quickly, anyone wanting to know the feelings of the world at the beginning of this century should refer to this book. The delicate subject matter of the East – West divide is handled very sensitively, and although the writing is fairly simple, it is very powerful.
When I first finished the book I was very disappointed with the ending. After a few days of reflection, however, I came to realise how clever the ambiguous ending was. Without revealing what happens, I’ll just say that the way you view the events of the last page says a lot about your racial prejudices. A thought provoking, insightful novel.