the next good book

Exit West

By Moshin Hamid


231 pages

What’s it about? Nadia and Saeed meet at a night class and are instantly attracted to each other.  Their relationship develops at the same time their city is slipping into a civil war.  We watch as Nadia and Saeed’s lives change to accommodate the fighting,“War in Saeed and Nadia’s city revealed itself to be an intimate experience, combatants pressed close together, front lines defined at the level of the street one took to work, the school one’s sister attended, the house of one’s aunt’s best friend, the shop where one bought cigarettes.”As the fighting gets worse Nadia and Saeed take advantage of a magical door that leads out of the country.  They walk through and emerge in London.  In the second half of the book Hamid explores what it means to be a refugee looking for a home. What did it make me think about? So many thoughts about this one- mainly what a phenomenal writer Mohsin Hamid is!  Also, how does he write such long, beautiful sentences?  I appreciated “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”- but “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” is one of my favorite books in recent years.  I was so eager to read this small novel and it did not let me down.  “Exit West” is a tale of our time.  It made me think of  Syria and all those trapped amongst the fighting.  No magic doors are available there, and yet many people find a way out.  Moshin Hamid reminds us of the cost of leaving home, the cost of welcoming others in,  and gives us hope that humanity will find a way. Should I read it? Yes- what a timely book.  Shouldn’t we all take a little time to think about the plight of the migrants? Quote-Perhaps they had decided they did not have it in them to do what would have needed to be done, to corral and bloody and where necessary slaughter the migrants, and had determined that some other way would have to be found.  Perhaps they had grasped that the doors could not be closed, and new doors would continue to open, and they had understood that the denial of coexistence would have required one party to cease to exist, and the extinguishing party too would have been transformed in the process, and too many native parents would not after have been able to look their children in the eye, to speak with head held high of what their generation had done.”

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