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Exit West offers a provocative look at the choices people make when their cities succumb to extremist violence. Saeed and Nadia, who want to get on with their ordinary but romantic lives in an unnamed country, find their jobs lost, their families sundered, their homes threatened by the growing street violence around them. They choose to escape, finding themselves in one affluent Western country after another. They live in impoverished refugee areas, struggling to get by and to maintain their love.
The novel was beautifully written. Mohsin Hamid does a competent job reading his own work. His tone is flat, as if he were deliberately repressing his anger and even rage at the way the world is harming his honorable young characters.
But authors should not read their own works. A professional actor would have brought more energy, more subtlety and more feeling to the novel. Nevertheless, an excellent listening experience.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Exit West was beautifully written. It seemed like an allegory about immigration. Although Saeed and Nadia were the main immigrants, Hamid beautifully captured the experiences of just about ALL immigrants. It is his contention, in this book, that we ALL are immigrants in one sense or another. He demonstrates this by interspersing very short anecdotes that are unrelated to the main plot. These anecdotes seem to add up to a picture of the scope and variety of immigrants and immigration. A couple of these anecdotes didn’t really make much sense to me, but if I view them ALL as examples of immigration pure and simple, then a picture of the vastness of his definition for immigration emerges. In fact, it seems that almost any movement in space and through a door or portal could be construed as immigration according to Hamid. He uses the symbol of a door throughout the book to stand for various movements both in and out of any situation… thus immigration. This inclusivity serves to make the reader feel a part of the situation involving immigration in the world today, which is what I think Hamid was trying to do.
Not only does he do a good job of making the reader aware of the vastness of the immigration situation, he beautifully conveys male/female relationships through the progression of Saeed and Nadia’s partnership. His descriptions of their relationship are achingly beautiful, I thought. In fact , his descriptions of other relationships throughout the book are beautifully conveyed, as well.
It is a well written book that also carries a very timely message.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful