The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Moshin Hamid - Summary

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Fill in all the gaps, then press "Check" to check your answers.
   ambiguously      America      bearded      capitalist      Changez      Chile      comparison      foreigner      Greece      hotel      increasingly      janissaries      Lahore      Manila      mindsets      novel      occupation      perspectives      political      Princeton      reader      reassurances      uncomfortable      Underwood Samson      university lecturer      World Trade   
Set in the years following 9/11, The Reluctant Fundamentalist tackles, by Moshin Hamid through the engaging, articulate words of its narrator Changez, what it is to be a Pakistani living in the suspicious, terrorism-altered Western world.Moshin Hamid

Images of 9/11

The novel is brief, and the narration takes place during the course of one long day in a Lahore café. The , addressed as ‘you’, takes on the persona of an American businessman or possibly a CIA agent – the exact and reason for his presence in Lahore is never made clear – and is approached by a young gentleman, who invites himself to join ‘you’ at ‘your’ table. Over the course of cups of tea, snacks and a delicious evening meal, the stranger, who introduces himself as , describes his life during the years he lived in , interspersed with snapshots of life, providing a contrast and not only of cultures but of changing and national .

Changez arrives in America as a student of University, where he studies for a business degree, graduating with high honours, successfully gaining a training contract at top valuation firm, . Upon graduating, before his employment begins, he goes on a celebratory holiday to with some wealthy university friends, among them a girl named Erica. Changez soon falls for Erica, but has to content himself at first with being simply friends – Erica is still mourning her first boyfriend, who died from cancer a year earlier. Back in New York, Changez accustoms himself to his working life with alacrity, displaying excellent financial and business skills and reaching first place amongst his peers quickly; at the same time he maintains his relations with Erica, visiting her in her parents’ home and accompanying her to parties and restaurants.

Changez is on a work assignment in when the Centre is attacked on 11th September 2001. Although at first pleased to see America ‘brought to her knees’, he is concerned for Erica and the victims of the city in which he lives. Upon flying back to New York he finds life there markedly different – beginning when he is strip-searched at the airport and treated as a , despite having lived there for years. This is the turning point of the novel, from when Changez begins to feel in America and starts to examine his company's ethics and its values.

Against a background of war raging between America and Afghanistan, and India and his home country of Pakistan, Changez becomes uneasy. His relationship with Erica reaches its peak when he succeeds in making love to her, but after this she falls into a decline, unable any longer to repress the memory of her dead boyfriend. After a short trip home, Changez returns to find Erica in a clinic, where he goes to visit her. Becoming increasingly uneasy in New York, he eventually begins to question his values upon a trip to , where an elderly publisher discusses the of the Crusades with him, with whom Changez can instantly identify. He stops work and resolves to leave his job at Underwood Samson.

Once fired from his job, he is forced to leave America and return to Lahore. Before doing so, he attempts to visit Erica once more, but is told she has gone missing. A visit to her mother provides him with a copy of the she had written, but not published, as a memory of her, and with it Changez returns to his birthplace, where ‘you’ now find him.

As the evening draws to a close, Changez offers to walk ‘you’ back to your . Along the way he explains that in Lahore he is a , and has become something of a mentor for his more politically-minded students, some of whom have been implicated in recent violence. It becomes apparent that a group of men, including the waiter from the café, are following ‘you’, and despite Changez’s he appears to be involved in a sinister plot with them. The novel ends with ‘you’ reaching into your jacket – perhaps for a business card, as Changez suggests, or perhaps for a gun. It is up to the reader now – are you a simple businessman or a CIA agent looking for Changez? Only you can decide.