The Instant Hit Of Novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Reluctant Fundamentalist was an instant hit when it was published in 2007. This remarkable literary piece engaged, still doing, many acclaimed critics, and has won many awards like an Annisfield Woolf award and South bank show annual award, and was also shortlisted for the 2007 Booker award.

This novel sheds light on a Pakistani man, Changez, who brings up in Pakistan and then goes to America, where he adopts great affection for the American society and becomes a culturally and cognitively hybrid person. The light from Hamid’s pen lightens the dominant aspects of Changez’s hybrid persona. Up to September 11, 2001, he is a happy man but after this catastrophe of 9/11, this hybridity complex starts to traumatize him; both physically and psychologically. As I am applying the Trauma Narrative theory on the novel, my focus in the literature review will be on those acclaimed critics who have talked about either the narration of the novel or about those aspects and incidents in the novel that have physically or psychologically traumatized Changes.

Peter Morey comments on the narrative style of the novel and tries to explain some important chunks of the piece. He claims that the novel is a less traumatic narrative, and includes a more truth exposure narrative style. Morey; as an English critic, seems to be a little bit partial against the narrative style of the novel. He thinks that Humid highlights the post 9/11 dilemma of the world: the harsh and scornful attitude of the west (America) towards the east (Muslims), in a much-defamiliarized manner. Hamid lets this coin to be laid on one side: he speaks from an eastern point of view only. Morey seems to defend literally the west against the east in a very sophisticated manner through his arguments.

Morey argues that per the current circumstances of the world, the world must have categories on a spatial and national basis, which so negated by the text of the book as well as the narrator, Changes, of the book. Changez here represents the whole eastern Muslim society. Morey indirectly highlights and appreciates Hamid for his style of narration because what he narrates is true on behalf of the eastern people. Hamid speaks through the mouth of Changez, the eastern Muslim representative, who wants America to consider its attitude towards the policy of expelling all the ‘others” from their country because it can turn to be a disaster for America.

Gardner Rence-Lee comments on the narration style of the novel. He identifies one of the major facts about the novel; which is the silence of the American, Bobby, who is supposed to be powerful culturally and traditionally; and the continuously speaking of Changez, a Pakistani Muslim, which the Americans call as ‘other’. The concept of ‘otherization’ came of the catastrophe of 9/11 where American starts to consider non-Americans as hostile to their country, and on this concept, they start you exclude all the non-Americans and start to call them as ‘others’, especially the eastern Muslims. The situational irony implied here where the supposed speaker remains silent throughout the course of the novel. This situational irony carries great significance here. Hamid is literally letting the traditionally degraded eastern Muslim, Changez, to speak and burst out his mind and heart, and to free himself from those tormenting and scornful feelings aroused by Americans in him after the attacks of 9/11. Changez is not letting the American to speak on any single occasion. He even answers his own questions. This shows the thirst of any eastern Muslim, affected by America, to speak his heart and mind out. This habit of Changez exactly points out to my original thesis topic, The Trauma Narrative.

Another female critic, Ayesha Ahmed, throws light on the complex relationship between Changez and Erica. Ahmed touches on the idea that Changez’s desire to acquire Erica as violated by the complex situation produces due to Erica’s feelings for her late ex-boyfriend, Chris. Changez suffers due to this up to an extreme extent which leads his noble desire to get Erica’s love becomes profane by letting her think of Changez as Chris, during their physical intercourse. At the beginning of the novel, Changez does not take Erica’s love for Chris that much serious; but later on, he becomes so much frustrated by the feelings of unrequited love, and is so much traumatizes that he violates the very basic principle of love by letting his beloved to consider him as her ex-boyfriend. Changes do this just to get rid of the trauma and mental agony by his ‘unrequited love’.

Their relations become so much complex where Changez’s desire becomes so much impotent, and also Erica’s feelings for Changez are continuously disrupted by the memory of Chris. This complex love triangle makes Changez’s noble desire ignoble.

Isam M.Shihada, in his commentary on the novel, beautifully explores the main crucks of the novel which is the harsh treatment and humiliation of the Muslims by the America after 9/11 disaster. He remarks on how the Muslims were subjected to scornful criminal events, stereotypical yellow journalism, physical and mental traumas, disrespect at the entrance to their country, etc. He claims that the novel literally negates the dominant concept of the western people: that Islam and the Muslims are the primary and probably the only threat to western civilization in general and to America in particular. He argues that Hamid counter attacks the prevailing negative mentality of the Americans about Muslims and Islam.

Shihada further claims that it is alarming for the American Dream to be fulfilled if they keep on making ordinary Muslims like Changez, the lovers of America. to relinquish their positive feelings for America and turns into a radical anti-American.

He highlights the idea that America should not relate a few tragic incidents to any particular nation, religion, or people like Changez who are doing very well for their benefits, otherwise, this can be a nightmare rather than a dream for America. Hamid literally awakens the west to consider their harsh attitudes towards ordinary Muslims that traumatizing them mentally, and such traumatization can lead to hostile and mysterious alienation of the affected people that can turn the west upside down.


Read more