March 27, 2013
In the summer of 2011, for a review marking the tenth anniversary of the attacks, I read thirteen novels with 9/11 plots, from Jonathan Safran Foer to Julia Glass, from Jess Walter to Claire Messud. My favorite was Mohsin Hamid’s Booker-nominated contribution, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a slim, clever allegory with a large ambition — it wants to make you understand something about the experience of Islamic people in the Middle East and in the United States. Like Hamid, its narrator is a Pakistani who has lived in the U.S. but is now back in Lahore. This speaker delivers the entire story as a monologue over dinner to an American visitor whose voice is never heard but who may have a gun.