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Reluctant Fundamentalist: A migrant’s tale

Jun 04, 2014

The book explores the ways in which a foreigner attracted by the charisma of a new land is caught in a dilemma whether to maintain his traditions or bring about a change.


New Delhi: Last month Gregory Maniatis, advisor to United Nations Special Representative for Migration said that migrants are the greatest agents of human development in the world.

The UN official further said that migration is the original strategy for people seeking to escape poverty, mitigate risk and build a better life, Gregory Maniatis, advisor to United Nations Special Representative for Migration. He was speaking at the opening function of Civil Society Days organised as part of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

To highlight the plight of Migrants all over the world, OneWorld South Asia reviews a compelling account of the protagonist featured in Moshin Hamid’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ also the winner of The Man Booker Prize.

The book encapsulates the hardships experienced by an individual on migration. The protagonist is shown struggling, in a foreign land to retain his ethnicity, dealing with discrimination, which caused an unwilling transformation of his own self to becoming a fundamentalist.

Moshin Hamid’s novel even though published seven years back, delves into sensitive issues such as the exclusion faced by migrants and subtle cultural hegemony in a foreign land. This is relevant in today’s times as well, as the developed countries through economic and political supremacy manage to exceed immense influence over the developing nations.

Hamid’s novel written in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks through the life story of Changez talks about the sorrows of an outsider looked upon with suspicion and its effects on his everyday life.

The book is a monologue explaining the journey of a foreigner, initially attracted by the glitz and glamour of the new land and joyous of being a part of the West.

The novel is a cleverly constructed tale of infatuation and disenchantment being a gateway to understand the troubles faced by immigrants. It successfully captures the essence of the western dream playing on the emotions of a foreigner, his qualms and joys, making the reader reflect.

The book even though has been successful through the example of the protagonist, in subtly highlighting the need for special rights to  migrants communities, it also makes an assertion for creating a larger world community without people feeling alienated.

Hamid has been successful in cleverly remaking at the increasing east-west gulf, through a sensational piece of writing, and proving that he’s an author to watch out for.

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