The Reluctant Fundamentalist

hāroonsidāt

Despite my reading and writing commitments, I have managed to ‘flick channels’ and read The Reluctant Fundamentalist. For those of you haven’t read it yet, I won’t spoil it for you. Well, not too much.

The janissaries of the Ottoman empire captured Christian boys trained to fight against their own people, which they did with singular ferocity. This interesting class of warrior is described during a business lunch to Changez, the young hero of Mohsin Hamid’s second novel, at a moment of crisis over his own identity. Born in Pakistan, educated at Princeton and currently the hottest new employee at a New York firm specialising in ruthless appraisals of ailing companies being targeted for takeover, Changez recognises himself in the description. “I was a modern-day janissary,” he observes, “a servant of the American empire at a time when it was invading a country with a kinship to mine …”

The…

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