The Reluctant Reader

When one of my book clubs chose Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist for discussion, I was reluctant to read it.  Lately, I’ve been reluctant to read much, other than bingeing on Jenny Colgan’s Scottish romance stories.  Somehow I had missed this Man Booker finalist, and was surprised by its powerful message.

Using a dramatic monologue, a speech by the main character,  to convey the story of a young Pakistani who parlays his talent and intelligence into a brilliant career but then becomes disenchanted after 911, Hamid creates a long soliloquoy, challenging the reader to examine his or her own underlying bias as the tale develops.   Someone in the group mentioned the movie adaptation with the screenplay by the author.  Watching it confirmed my impression of the author’s rail against the anonymity of war and business in a big box world without individualism, but it also offered some surprises and a different perspective on the characters than I had imagined.

Over ten years ago, major universities (Tulane, Georgetown, Bucknell, SMU, and others) chose the book as the freshman read for incoming students.   Although the book is short in pages, its message is long and timely today, despite its 2007 publication.

Have you read it?  Have you read his latest book, Exit West?

 

Banned Books and 9/11

SEPTEMBER 11 – For some, the question was “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”  For others – “Where were you when John Lennon was killed?”   But today, the generational question is, of course, “Where were you on 9/11? (2001)”

Has the world changed over the last nine years?  Have we learned anything to make it better?  To be more tolerant?

The New York Times posted an article yesterday about a book being recalled and the publisher’s comment:  “Their clumsy efforts to suppress the book only made it a bestseller…”      And then, there’s the minister who threatened to burn the Koran.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/10/us/10books.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=book+recalled&st=nyt

The American Library Association sponsors Banned Book Week – this year from September 25th– October 2nd.

Do you know which books have been banned in the United States – at one time or another?  The list would surprise you.

Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn have been long favorites.  Here are some others – just in case you are looking for something to read…

  • John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  • Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner
  • Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon
  • John Updike’s Rabbit, Run
  • Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
  • Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
  • Joseph Heller’s Catch-22
  • Toni Morrison’s Beloved
  • Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale
  • John Steinbeck’s East of Eden (wonder if Oprah knew)