This week’s Maria’s staff pick

by Jaime Cary

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid

There is so much fear in the world today. So much fear, and not enough empathy. Terrible things have happened in the past several years. Terrible civil wars, acts of terrorism, people fleeing their home because it is the last chance they have. All of this amid posturing and stereotyping, all on a world scale.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is the story that a man named Changez tells to a jumpy American in a cafe in Lahore, and his love affair with an American woman in the days immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the events that lead him to quit America and to return to his homeland.

This book was an incredible commentary on globalization, racism, espionage and the mixing of cultures in a world where people seldom agree with one another. It was fantastic. Beautifully written, it was a wonderful examination on the nature of being a stranger in a foreign country, particularly a stranger whose foreignness is viewed negatively by the native populace, and the strange way the global politics is conducted.

“I stated to them among other things that no country inflicts death so readily upon the inhabitants of other countries, frightens so many people so far away as American,” Hamid writes.

The thing I liked the most about this book was how it examined how far the effects of America’s actions go, and how the average American seldom knows these effects.

Everyone should read this book.

— Jaime Cary

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