Book Review: Exit West

Book Review: Exit WestExit West
by Mohsin Hamid
on 3/7/2017
Pages: 231
Published by Riverhead Books
Genres: Magical Realism, Literary Fiction, Fiction

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

My Takeaway 

“We are all migrants through time.” Mohsin Hamid

What a magnificent and magical novel! At a mere 240 pages, Exit West is jam-packed with beautiful, poetic and imaginative writing (and fabulism tinges). Hamid is a magician of words and I was a guest on his magic carpet. The novel is about refugees, immigration, the loss of loved ones, adjusting to new environments, and much more. The story begins with Nadia and Saeed, both young and in love. Their country has become a dangerous war zone that is progressively getting worse. They learn of mystic, transportable doors, which can take them to faraway places. Nadia and Saeed decide to leave their war-torn country and travel through one of the portable doors. The story follows them as they live in different places all around the world. An interesting aspect is that Hamid weaves other characters who also go through the transportable doors throughout the novel, which I think is pretty genius. This novel is quite relevant to the current refugee crisis going on. I agree with other readers that the pace slows down towards the end, but I still recommend it and encourage you to read it and discuss with others who have read it.

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