I just finished this book by Mohsin Hamid which is a quick read – 179 pages. Took me all of 2.5 hours to get through it.
I picked up the book because I had read Hamid’s reluctant fundamentalist and found it an interesting story which was well told.
This book, however, has left me unmoved and unaffected. The style and the structure of the novel is unique and also attention grabbing for a while but after that the novelty of the style fades as quickly as the strength of the story. It is a decent story, filled with predictable cliched descriptions of poor people living in horrible conditions, defecating openly, having sex when there is no privacy but it falls flat.
It falls flat in the end because there is no character development and there is no motivation or drive ascribed to the central character. We don’t know what fires him or gets him down, we do not know the intensity with which he loves. He is a passive figure and yet he is portrayed as the ambitious underdog who goes on to overachieve. Most of all, the title of the book is completely misguiding.
The language is good. Hamid has a flair for writing, there is no doubt about that but the structure and the storyline of the novel do not serve it very well. For the most part, it seemed to me like a half hearted effort.