Mohsin Hamid brought “Exit West” to shelves last year, and this romance amidst war and destruction has received much praise and recognition. His novel follows a couple who must somehow keep their love alive when they become refugees who flee from a war-torn land, to London.
This novel is a modern look at the migrant, unwilling traveler. Hamid is non-specific enough that the piece is timeless.
Hamid plays quite a bit with the concept of time, as it passes a world of machines you must see sheeran plays it safe Atlantic Records Sony Interactive quickly and encompasses Nadia and Saeed’s lives until they’re wrinkled in only 231 pages. He writes, “We are all migrants through time.”
“Exit West’s” narrative takes a much loftier approach than Hamid’s previous novel, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” Where “Fundamentalist” was told in a rich and close narrative, “Exit West” takes a much loftier approach. The reader is held at a certain distance from the characters, never quite entering their heads. Much of Hamid’s language is elegant and long-winded in a lyrical way, with single sentences often making up entire paragraphs.
Hamid also pulls an interestingly wide-scoped narrative in which we are brought closer in-scene with characters unrelated to the protagonists the reader follows but seem to at least add to the budding intensity of war and violence. It becomes clear that the world Hamid has created is one in which people cannot escape darkness.
The loftiness that is felt in the narrative causes an issue in reading, however. It keeps the reader too detached and doesn’t allow for a connection to be made to the main characters. The perspective is too objective, and though it’s a romance, it doesn’t come across as strongly as it could on the page.
Surprisingly, I felt most intrigued by the side stories, the brief moments of unrelated characters, which is problematic. They’re not the main story, and I wanted more of that than of the two that are followed for the most part.
I did not feel compelled to keep reading and only finished it for the sake of providing a review, and to see if the ending held enough merit to justify the removed feeling through much of the novel.
To be truthful, the ending is a little heartbreaking, especially for those looking for a happy ending or those who do fall for the characters’ love for each other. Even though I couldn’t feel connected to Nadia or Saeed, I was still upset by their story’s end, without anything certain for their future.
The ending seems representative of the strain war can put on a relationship, even the most sincere ones.
If you’re looking for a story to lead you surface-level across without a dramatic finish, something that’s more of a subtle read one day, then this is the book for you.
However, if you’re like me and want something a little closer to the characters, then perhaps pick a different novel.