Saturday, March 4, 2017

Book Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Nadia and Saeed meet and fell in love in a war-thorn dystopian city - 'In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at pace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man meet a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her. For many days' -, that they succeed to escape through walking through a door. They arrive at a refugee camp in the Greek island of Mykonos from where they walk through another door that leads them to a building populated by refugees in London. As they arrive to their next stop, a small locality near San Francisco, their love is fading away and they break apart, for meeting only 4 decades away in the city where everything started.
It is more than a story, but a meditation about who is a refugee and who is the 'native', through episodes of riots and intercalation of other people' stories. Disparate, mechanical beings, who are rather connecting through Internet than in real life, where feelings and relationships are dysfunctional and natural gestures are replaced by mechanical relationships. 
I personally struggled with this book and had conflictual feelings about it. I very much loved the beginning - the quotation above 'In a city...' but had some big issues with many of the long sentences, sometimes too fluffy. In some cases there were some completely confusing and not very logical either, like this one: 'Saeed was certain he was in love. Nadia was not certain what exactly she was feeling, but she was certain it had force'.  I understand the need of introducing a strongly elegiac tone, but sometimes the introspection ends up completely out in the air and then we are already introduced to a new episode. I would also have loved that some of the 'other' stories, same of them really inspiring and inducing a certain meaning to the story, to be a bit more developed.
However, it is an interesting book to read, because it originates a discussion about the current political and identity crisis and offers a literary interpretation to it. I've previously read by Hamid The Reluctant Fundamentalist which I didn't openly liked it, but I think this book is a more profound and challenging approach of the daily reality. 

Rating: 3 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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