Mohsin Hammid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist has been chosen as Humanities programme course novel.
20 Aug 2010
Incoming students to the four Humanities programme degrees have voted for Mohsin Hammid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) to be the course novel for 2010-11. It is hoped that having a novel which students across all degrees and all years have read will allow for interesting discussions both in and outside of seminars, and a couple of events will be arranged during the academic year in which staff and students can explore in more detail the themes of the novel and its relevance to issues explored on the Humanities programme.
Synopsis of the novel:
Changez is a young man born in Pakistan and now enjoying a stellar career in the United States: education at Princeton University, a high-flying job with a New York firm, a relationship with wealthy and privileged WASP, Erica. Changez had thought that he loved all things American, so why does he react to the events of 9/11 with something approaching gladness? Hammid's novel is provocative and challenging, asking us to explore our own beliefs and assumptions about terrorism, 'War on Terror' and the nature of contemporary globalisation. Hammid opens up for examination the meanings and uses of the term 'fundamentalism'. Though it might first appear that this refers to Changez's, albeit 'reluctant', adoption of an Islamic militancy, the novel also suggests that this might be an appropriate term for the unquestioned assumptions of American capitalism and its expansion around the globe. But The Reluctant Fundamentalist is also a disconcerting reading experience for another reason. Changez narrates his story to an unnamed American in a café in Lahore. As such, the reader is, in a sense, placed in an (albeit reluctant) alignment with this enigmatic representative of American power. It becomes clear however, as Changez's story goes on, that one man may pose a mortal threat to the other - but which is it?