An Open Letter to America
which unfortunately I read late, around 5 years late. Why unfortunate? B’coz I might have liked it or may be loved it as I was a naïve reader back then i.e I was into Sheldons and Archers and closer home Bhagats *blushes*. Anyways, I was well aware when this book hit the literary world and took it by storm. The dashing title, a Pakistani author, a reluctant subject, a movie in the making by Mira Nair and that’s precisely the reason I wanted to read the book before watching the movie , so bought a copy and was yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy…finally…great read it’s gonna be!!
1st page: ok.
2nd page: yea okk.
3rd page: Ahan! I know where you are heading.
50th page: err…no, I don’t think so where you are heading, but I sense a twist just around the corner.
100th page: A love story…girl’s lover dead…can’t forget him….a clinic…I once had a girl…Norwegian wood…Yes! Yes!...No! ok :|
183rd page: just few more lines and then contact Agent J a.k.a. Will Smith and request for the memory eraser toy and move on to your next Murakami read.
And Noooo!! (Kindly excuse for the superlatives) I didn’t hate this book but hating the fact that why I couldn’t appreciate it in any way possible. It made me uncomfortable throughout rather than excited and the most irritating part is that you are compelled to read it till the end in the hope of getting hold of the whole idea of this book. At the end, the author hurled a very smart curve ball towards his readers…leaving most of us in dilemmas, some on the side of Changez (the protagonist), some on the side of Mr. America (envying that delectable Lahori food he had) and some wishing to watch the re-run of 2011 epic cricket world cup semi-final between India and Pakistan and marveling at its brilliance and that moment when…Aargh..I never knew writing the review would be a similar experience like that of reading this book..distracting!!
This is the second book I read of a pakistani author, first being My Feudal Lord by Tehmina Durrani, which I judged on the basis of its subject and not on writing style and since I read it around 6 years ago, all I could recall was that it was simple but affected me enough to evoke emotions of empathy which might not hold true at present having read many great books and becoming more aware and objective about the world around me since then so it might not feature in the league of extra ordinary but it definitely left an impression which reluctant fundamentalist as I highly doubt shall fail to do so. As the story was unfolding it became, hardly audible and incredibly distant. And the writing style!! I wish the narration was in one to one style as it started bothering me after few chapters, may be the execution was unconvincing or plain dull *oxymoron*.
This book has some great ideas but somehow fell short of the elements that would have made it a great page turner. It felt too safe and too confined for my taste. Islamic Fundamentalism is a sensitive subject and needs to be handled carefully without actually conveying any negative message or an ambiguous one but what Mohsin Hamid as seemed, resisted from going out of his comfort zone and stating everything at a superficial level without actually diving deep.
The only thing I found acceptable was his realization of being victimized or prone to victimization because “I am a Muslim”, but like I stated that I read it a bit late so in today’s time this has become a bit redundant and again not helping in scoring brownie points for Mr. Hamid.
For me it's 2 stars ** , simply because as a writer he definitely has potential provided he let himself go of all the inhibitions if he’s having any, from his literary genes.