Mohsin Hamid is one of the three Pakistani origin author long listed for this years Man Bookers’ prize. He made his name in 2007 with the book The Reluctant Fundamentalist which was later adopted in the major Hollywood motion picture. Exit West is the first book that I read from this years’ longlist and it was sort of the mixed bag .
Exit West is the story based in the unnamed country and unnamed city which is under seize by the terrorist. This seize is because of the civil war that had plagued all forms of living resources from the city. Saeed and Nadia fall in love during this civil war and their affair is disrupted by curfews, bullets and strikes. The first part of the story drives compassion in the reader as the life during the war is unworthy. Depression and fear creeps in and the comfort of placement of the characters and stories in an unnamed country takes you to all those troubled countries in war.
Then the story takes the support of magical realism and we see things change. The theme of the book that seemed to be on the countries struck by these civil wars, but later it shifts through the issues of immigration. However, in this book the refugees don’t have to deal with the unfriendly boarders, illegal ships or documents. To be honest, with all it’s tone and issues, it becomes bit difficult to take the second half of the book seriously. For me, it was a bit of let down especially after a great start and building beautiful characters.
I rated Exit West 3.5 out of 5 in goodreads, it could have been a 5 star rating if the second half of the book was as good as the first one.