Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid's latest book Exit West has been getting a lot of buzz lately. See:

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with some attention paid to a weakening in the story as it gives way to optimism. I suppose, for many of us, this is a hard perspective to take when the outlook for refugees worldwide seems so bleak right now. Perhaps, though, it is for that very reason that we need Hamid's book.

Each chapter gives loads of information, wasting nary a word to explain the absolute violence of leaving home. In this novel, Hamid pivoted from full-on realism writing to magical realism with the introduction of these 'doors' into other cities, golden keys out of war-torn lands. The use of these doors moved the book along quickly, across time and place, and turned attention away from the ferocity of the 'getting there' to focus instead on the continued trepidation and mercilessness of resettling. It journeys through the many ways we come to interact with others, the potentiality we have to dehumanize that which does not reflect ourselves, or does so in too uncomfortable a way and, yet, it also reminds us of the resilience and compassion of mankind.

I forget less and less how fortunate I am to have been born where I was born. 

Similar to Dalila, it also suggests that it is the universal experience of loss that binds us. It shows us how to lose gracefully, fiercely, willingly. It shows us how much their is to lose: our home, our families, ourselves. And, then, it shows us how to start again.

Finally, it is a story of love, a love that opens doors. Where is leads Nadia and Saeed, though, I will let you discover.

When he prayed he touched his parents, who could not otherwise be touched, and he touched a feeling that we are all children who lose our parents, all of us, every man and woman and boy and girl, and we too will all be lost by those who come after us and love us, and this loss unites humanity, unites every human being, the temporary nature of our being-ness, and our shared sorrow, the heartache we each carry and yet too often refuse to acknowledge in one another, and out of this Saeed felt it might be possible, in the face of death, to believe in humanity’s potential for building a better world...
— Mohsin Hamid, Exit West