Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by Underwood Samson, an elite firm that specializes in the valuation of companies ripe for acquisition. He thrives on the energy of New York. But in the wake of September 11, he finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned. And Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and perhaps even love.
©2007 Mohsin Hamid; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks America
"Bhabha's English-influenced Pakistani accent proves soothing and inviting for listeners." (Publishers Weekly)
It's hard to talk about the content of this book because I found the narrative structure so very distracting. The entire book is written from the perspective of one person talking to another one evening. Everything learned about the second person is through the way that the narrator speaks to him. There are a lot of long sessions of the narrator talking about himself, except for the occasional chiding, borderline condescending comment he makes to the person sitting with him. (This structure is apparently called a "frame story".)
The story -- about a Pakistani fellow who goes to America and figures out how to make a ton of money and has an awkward brush with romance, but then chooses to return home and give up that life after seeing the ill treatment suffered by seemingly anyone suspected to hold Islamist beliefs in the U.S. -- is intriguing enough to maintain one's interest for the full ~5 hours, and is even thought-provoking at times, with a bit of a punch to the gut at the end. The narrator is excellent.
This was a very interesting book written from the perspective of a Pakistani man who had achieved the "American Dream" before the 9/11 attack on New York. He is a successful, intelligent man who thrives in New York, but faces an existential crisis when his homeland and home are at war with one another. The story is narrated as a mealtime soliloquy between the protagonist and an unnamed American, as we learn the likeable protagonist's difficult but honest journey from Princeton boy wonder to financial wizard to befuddled bystander to outsider to ex-patriot. I am not sure that all of the emotions associated with this time were really flushed out (e.g., fear, racism), so I imagine the novel could have been longer, but it was a tight, concise, and approachable description of a perspective I would have, admittedly, otherwise not considered.
The narrator is excellent- his Pakistani accent is smooth and velvety, and he transitions to "American finance guy" seamlessly. Listening to the monologue would be much preferred to reading the words, as the narrator is able to illustrate when the protagonist gets "fired up" (the visual reader would only know when, later, he apologizes for his raised voice), and make tangible the protagonist's polite tone (one of the character's defining features).
The fact that I could listen to it while being on a train instead of packing extra weight! Also, how it was written. I was hooked right after the first chapter and the ending was just as different.
The character's love for the girl. It's so well written that you can climb into every character's head.
The book is written in first person and the one character with accent made it seem real.
It made me think about my grandson who is a Yale student and having his first summer intern job in NYC and getting used to it.
Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.
The story relates a one-way conversation by a Pakistani-American to an unnamed American with a bulge in his arm pit where something may be concealed. In a restaurant in Lahore, he relates his life story to the American who appears to be in an uncomfortable position.
It is a true American success story where a poor boy reaches the pinnacle of American business only to have second thoughts about his prosperity after 9/11.
Hamid leaves the ending up to our own devices to figure out. However, this makes the story al the more interesting.
I give it three stars because, while interesting, there is really only one character and his development is given away by the title.
There is a lot about this book that is very honest, in terms of the feelings some people have towards this country. And I think it's worth reading--hopefully by mentally balanced individuals.
That said, I hope that none of this book's many admirers take it as justifying or rationalizing terrorism. We all agree that being happy about the killing of innocent people, just because you're uncomfortable with the way their country operates, is not ok, right??? I find the book's ambiguity on that question pretty unsettling.
Emotional colliding of worlds and classes resonated. The theme of "entitlement" of American youth was very well captured on the post-college grand tour of Greece. Both main characters disconnection with their current worlds led to death in one and rejection and a return to the home of his birth in the other.
Wow. Next level fiction here. To be honest, it took about half the book for me to get really engaged in the story, but I did get there.
Take a look at Mohsin Hamid's resume and it will give you a hint on what's going on here. Born in Pakistan, lived in the states for a bit, returned to Pakistan, came back and went to Princeton for undergrad, harvard law school, took a job at a big time law firm, but decided it was too boring (per wikipedia). He's written for almost every respectable publication and was named one of the world's top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine. Somewhere in there he became a dual citizen: UK and Pakistan.
He absolutely kills it in this book (California slang for "does a really good job"). Here are the main parts I see in it:
1. He's in love with a woman who periodically stops responding to him. He thinks she is not interested, and maybe that is what it is, but he keeps racking his brain on what it is and tries different angles to reach her.
2. He is a Pakistani who lives and works in high profile america. He always feels like an outsider. Then 9/11 happens and he feels even more like an outsider.
3. His job is appraising companies and he does a good job of it, but in appraising Philipino and Chilean companies he realizes he is feeding the American engine that is disrupting the lives of many around the world. It may be a shock to Americans, but it is a very honest one, and I think it is really valid. I am an american who has lived in Mexico, Israel and now China with a lot of travel in between. Hamid contributes thinking that the west, but especially Americans desperately need to at least be aware of and likely, begin to adopt.
He struggles with that and with his family being in a place that is on the edge of war. He sees the effect the US's activity in Afghanistan is having and I think helps us to see it in an honest way.
After reading this book, I am excited to pick up his other works and delve into his thinking more. ... did I mention this book is short? 4 and a half hours on audio.
Love history books, really love military personnel memoirs, philosophy & religion and Arthurian style fantasy books!
I have not read the print version however the quality of performance of the book, partially due to the way the book is written but mostly due to the way that it was performed was superb.
Possibly. While I empathize with his desires and his feelings of respect for his roots, his home country and family, I cannot forgive him for accepting the fact that he felt satisfied when seeing the World Trade Center hit along with his deep regret that we invaded Afghanistan. I would love to visit the WTC, but he did not make me desire to visit Lahore, Pakistan.
The author to ask many questions about his prejudice against the United States and to understand and try to qualify his right to feel it and project it. Moreover his willingness to expect others to feel the same way or accept his feelings.
Overall the book was a good experience and I purchased it on the special of the day so it was a well spent $3. It was entertaining, emotional, maddening, saddening, etc. however I really really don't like the way the book ended. I think it was a misguided attempt to make it into a movie that leaves you hanging but it failed to do so. Still, however, worth the time spent listening and it is a short audio book. You will likely not regret listening if you have a strong stomach for debate and anti-Americanism and to accept it for what it is: one person's prospective on the world.
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