I figured I would be late in posting about my March choice for Book of the Month Club, but I am much earlier than I thought because I breezed through this book. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is quite simply a beautiful novel. It was not what I expected because there is a touch of fantasy and magic in it (the door in the picture hints at that), but the odd magical touch is not the most striking aspect of this novel. It’s the writing.
If I were to name the book’s theme, it would be fluidity because it touches every aspect of the story: the plot, the characters, the setting, the sentence, paragraph, and chapter structure, the ideas explored (religion, love, sexuality, belonging, citizenship). Nothing in this novel is stagnant, which works beautifully in a story about migrants. I am not entirely sure where the characters, or myself for that matter, ended up at the novel’s finish. If you want a timely novel that makes you think about what is going on in the world, this novel is for you, especially if you want one that isn’t drowned in a sense of dread.
We follow two main characters through their fluid and ever-changing love story, but Hamid also includes glimpses at other people around the world. These windows to other parts of the world strengthen the novel’s main ideas about what belonging and being a migrant mean and about love and family. The first few of these scenes are jarring because it is quite sudden. However, sticking with the theme of fluidity, you get used to the jarring elements of the story much like you get used to the rocking of a boat the first time you’re at sea.
I was prepared for a good story, and I got a great one. The story is modern in both style and subject, and I don’t know that anyone who picks up this book could regret doing so.
As always with Book of the Month Club, you can click on this link to expand your reading horizons. If you’re already in the club, feel free to comment if you picked this book and what you thought, or if you picked another one, let me know how it was. If you picked up Exit West in the store, you have a great eye, and I’d love to hear from you as well.