By Vanessa Juarez
March 30, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

B

Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist begins at a restaurant in Pakistan, where a bearded native named Changez tells an American stranger about his glorious pre-9/11 days in the U.S.: Changez, a Princeton grad, moves to New York, gets a high-paying job, and falls for the ”stunningly regal” Erica. Then the Twin Towers collapse — and so does Changez. He begins grappling with his skin color (a drifter calls him a ”f—ing Arab”). As war looms, he feels his new life has blinded him to the world’s realities (”I was a man lacking in substance”) and sabotaged the American dream he’s made for himself. But Hamid’s attempts to build tension in his East-meets-West tale end up a bit flat. B

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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