This week I want to talk about Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.
This story follows Saeed and Nadia, two lovers trapped in a city where bombs begin to fall. They smoke and talk about the stars but the world outside Nadia’s apartment window is becoming increasingly divided. When mysterious doors begin to open up in their dangerous city, doors that can take you somewhere else in the world in an instant, the divide between east and west, rich and poor, becomes less clear. This is a story about love, home, migration and what it means to be a modern human.
I thoroughly enjoyed Exit West and read it extremely quickly, in part because of how short it is, but also because of how addictive it is. Hamid’s construction of this migration story makes us empathise with Nadia and Saeed so that when their home is taken away from them we understand that refugees are not nuisances – they are people, with lives and jokes and jobs and families. The doors that allow them to leap through space and time are the perfect amount of sci-fi mixed with magical realism – they feel, within the context of the narrative, plausible.
Hamid’s writing is comfortable and readerly but also poetic when it needs to be. Saeed and Nadia feel very real which is important I feel, to the message of this book. The hostility from the political right towards the ‘Migrant crisis’ that the world is facing is explained, fairly considered and intelligently challenged in Exit West. Hamid, through the variety of subplots that run throughout, examines and sheds light on every perspective within the discussion. For me this book was an opportunity to learn about what it means to have your home and life taken away from you – what it really means, not what news outlets tell privileged westerners it means.
I highly recommend this book.
I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
Keep on reading
And thanks again Beth!