Exit West - Mohsin Hamid

“We are all migrants through time.” 

Having just finished The Reluctant Fundamentalist before reading Exit West (both are due back at the library), I had high expectations for this book.

Sadly, I didn’t get as much out of this one as I hoped I would. I mean the premise is fascinating, a young couple from an unnamed country that is collapsing in a state of civil war is trying to escape and make for a new life in the West. It’s the story of so many over the recent years. It’s a story that has so much to offer in the way exploring that human condition when faced with survival, faith, interaction with others, etc.

And yet, I think the book lost it’s way a few times during the short story, as if it wasn’t sure what it wanted to purvey, what its point was. Many of the issues that Hamid mentioned would have been worthy of exploring further, but he didn’t. Maybe it is the brevity of the book that I need to blame, but Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist was equally short and was still more successful in raising and discussing several issues in more depth than Exit West.

Or maybe it was the style of this book, the detachment of the narration, that didn’t work for me. I’m sure the detachment could have worked to create that obvious divide between the characters and the reader, as if to say “you can witness, but you will never fully understand”, but then I guess the book would have failed me because I needed the book to draw me in as the reader and become part of the story to understand the mindset and emotional state of the characters.

Whatever it was, it just didn’t work that well for me.

No matter. It was still a worthwhile read.

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