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The Reluctant Fundamentalist | [Mohsin Hamid]

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with a suspicious, and possibly armed, American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting. 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 investment firm. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with a suspicious, and possibly armed, American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting.

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

What the Critics Say

"Bhabha's English-influenced Pakistani accent proves soothing and inviting for listeners." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (244 )
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3.8 (145 )
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4.2 (138 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Barbara Carlsbad, CA, United States 07-08-13
    Barbara Carlsbad, CA, United States 07-08-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The accent and voice were perfect."
    Where does The Reluctant Fundamentalist rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Excellent!!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Reluctant Fundamentalist?

    The book is written in first person and the one character with accent made it seem real.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Many


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Washington, DC, United States 06-07-09
    Dennis Washington, DC, United States 06-07-09 Member Since 2002

    Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fundamentally Sound"

    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.



    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew George Chevy Chase, MD, US 04-09-10
    Andrew George Chevy Chase, MD, US 04-09-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Engrossing but Unsettling"

    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.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JoAnn Boston, MA, United States 07-08-14
    JoAnn Boston, MA, United States 07-08-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Great, short listen"

    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).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JasonKCA Central California Valley 06-20-14
    JasonKCA Central California Valley 06-20-14 Member Since 2013

    Love history books, really love military personnel memoirs, philosophy & religion and Arthurian style fantasy books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Made for TV Movie Book, but a good ride/write..."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Reluctant Fundamentalist to be better than the print version?

    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.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Mohsin Hamid? Why or why not?

    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.


    If you could take any character from The Reluctant Fundamentalist out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sam shreveport, louisiana, United States 06-15-14
    sam shreveport, louisiana, United States 06-15-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Gatsby For the Modern Age"

    I downloaded this on a whim having considered it potentially interesting and having found it at a reasonable price as a daily deal. I am more than happy that I gave this novel a chance.

    I can best describe this novel as most similar to the Great Gatsby, but I assure you this novel can more than stand on its own. There's a recurring theme of a longing after a past that might not have ever existed; like a boat against the current chasing the green light at the end of the dock. We see this through the numerous characters the protagonist, Changes, meets as well as with America as a whole. This connection is furthered as Changes grows increasingly disillusioned with America following the events of 9/11; on that note it was refreshing to see a different sort of perceptive on that and the War on Terror.

    Another aspect I loved, a long with the narrators excellent job bringing the story to life, was the style of the narrative. Changes telling his story to an unspeaking (to the reader) companion at a cafe in Lahor; an interesting twist on convention story telling and delightfully lemony. For those wondering about the title, as you will see in the book, fundamentalism comes in more flavors than just religious; nor is it unique to the Muslim world. Keep an open mind and you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.

    I understand this book was nominated for the Booker Award; how it lost is a mystery that shall be debated for years to come. I'm also pleased that several universities are using this book in their courses. So buy this book today, you'll be glad you did!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Somerset, NJ, USA 06-05-10
    David Somerset, NJ, USA 06-05-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Let's all hate America"

    Interesting way of writing, first person where the author is speaking to an unidentified person.

    Well, when I got to the line about 9/11, "when I saw the towers fall I smiled," I knew this wasn't going to be pretty.

    Horrible. If you hate America, this is your kind of book. But otherwise, I suggest you pass.

    5 of 21 people found this review helpful
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