We had our book group last night. This was the book that we’d read:-

It was an interesting book and a good book for a group discussion; the ending was left so open – there were lots of theories.

The story is presented as a monologue. A bearded Pakastani man called Changez strikes up a one way conversation with a very unsettled and jittery American in a cafe in Lahore.

Changez has spent a number of years in America – after being educated in Princeton he then becomes the hottest new employee of a well respected company. It is a quietly told and cleverly constructed story of disenchantment. Set against the backdrop of the World Trade attacks he describes his increasingly torn views on how he feels about America and the rest of the world.

“I wonder how it was that America was able to wreak such havoc in the world – orchestrating an entire war in Afghanistan, say, and legitimizing through its actions the invasion of weaker states by more powerful ones, which India was now proposing to do to Pakistan – with so few apparent consequences at home”.

Considering that suicide attacks in Lahore in the last two weeks have killed more than 250 people, it is an extremely topical subject. His unrequited love interest, a woman he is infatuated with who cannot give him what he wants because of her preoccupation with a previous trauma seems to be an allegory for America – she is even called “Erica”, which makes it all the more obvious.

I’m not sure I enjoyed the structure of the book. It wasn’t easy to like the characters and I found it frustrating. However, I’m still going to recommend it.

I now want to read “The Islamist” which I’ve heard is also a very insightful book.

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