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the reluctant fundamentalist

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here is a great interview with writer mohsin hamid about his new book, “the reluctant fundamentalist”. hamid was born in pakistan, educated in america and now lives in london. two things that jumped out at me when i heard him on npr’s fresh air:

1) his book is based on a monologue between a princeton-educated pakistani man and a mysterious american who runs into him at a cafe in lahore. the reason he decided to write the novel in his pakistani protagonist’s voice is on account of the staggering silence imposed on muslims by western media. he was playing with the idea of looking at the world not through dialogue with others, but based on a one-sided conversation.

2) hamid talks about how he is not viewed with as much suspicion in england as he is in america. he attributes this fear to american media which have made it their mission to alarm people by telling them that they will die in a terrorist attack. he then puts it in perspective. 3,000 people died on september 11. 42,000 americans die each year in car crashes. yet we do not fear getting into a car. i would like to add this. we have accepted domestic spying, extraordinary renditions, torture, guantanamo, unprovoked wars, blackwater, halliburton, injustice, corruption and the defilement of our name around the world for the sake of feeling safer and less likely to die in a terrorist attack. if saving american lives is what we are talking about (and not oil-money) it would be much more effective, cheaper and straightforward to enforce a national speed limit of 5 miles per hour!

mohsin hamid

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