City of Santa Ana

Reviews for Exit West

by Mohsin Hamid

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"We are all migrants through time," observes Man Booker Prize short-lister Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist). The impulses driving such a movement, especially when rooted in violent conflict, is at the core of Hamid's exceptional fourth novel. In an unnamed city (not unlike the author's native Lahore, Pakistan), Saeed and Nadia meet, find love, and expect to share a future, but a militant takeover forces them to flee their homeland. Hamid reveals their tenuous journey from a dreamlike distance that perfectly blends reality with fablelike parable. For example, escape happens through "doors" only accessible via the right contact at the right price. While focusing the narrative spotlight on his lovers-on-the-run, Hamid regularly interrupts the couple's peregrinations with snapshot interludes-a potential murder in Tokyo, a woman threatened in Vienna, an aging grandmother in Palo Alto-that serve as reminders that life (and death) continues for everyone else, everywhere else, every which way. Both mellifluous and jarring, this novel is a profound meditation on the unpredictable temporality of human existence and the immeasurable cost of widespread enmity. VERDICT Libraries would do well to acquire this and all of Hamid's extraordinary titles. [See Prepub Alert, 9/12/16.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian -BookDragon, Washington, DC Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A young couple meet and fall in love as their city disintegrates into violence in this spare, allegorical novel. Nadia is a free spirit who lives independently, while Saeed is faithful to the traditions of family and prayer. Any semblance of normal life, to say nothing of courtship, is obliterated by the danger surrounding them, so Nadia and Saeed decide they must find a way to escape. They learn of doors, fantastical portals that defy the laws of physics and grant passage to distant locations. It seems a stroke of great fortune when Nadia and Saeed access a door that takes them to a Greek island. But the respite is illusory. The world's population is on the move, and desperate migrants like Nadia and Saeed are swarming through doors in overwhelming numbers. The pair's love is tested as they ponder strategies for survival. Should they stay, or find another door? Hamid describes with fluid insight the displaced lovers' despair and longing for stability. His use of contemporary details such as cell phone dependence will remind readers that Nadia and Saeed are but a few steps removed from any college-age couple fleeing a homeland at war. VERDICT This short but potent work offers teens a visceral understanding of the world's refugee crisis. Those who are aware of the current political climate regarding immigration will be moved by this poignant love story.-Diane Colson, formerly at City College, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Hamid's (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia) trim yet poignant fourth novel addresses similar themes as his previous work and presents a unique perspective on the global refugee crisis. In an unidentified country, young Saeed and burqa-wearing Nadia flee their home after Saeed's mother is killed by a stray bullet and their city turns increasingly dangerous due to worsening violent clashes between the government and guerillas. The couple joins other migrants traveling to safer havens via carefully guarded doors. Through one door, they wind up in a crowded camp on the Greek Island of Mykonos. Through another, they secure a private room in an abandoned London mansion populated mostly by displaced Nigerians. A third door takes them to California's Marin County. In each location, their relationship is by turns strengthened and tested by their struggle to find food, adequate shelter, and a sense of belonging among emigrant communities. Hamid's storytelling is stripped down, and the book's sweeping allegory is timely and resonant. Of particular importance is the contrast between the migrants' tenuous daily reality and that of the privileged second- or third-generation native population who'd prefer their new alien neighbors to simply disappear. Agent: Jay Mandel, WME Entertainment. (Mar.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* In an unnamed city with strict social mores, young Nadia is a rebel, an atheist who chooses to live and work independently. In religious and unassuming Saeed she finds the perfect companion. As the two fall in love, their romance is tinged with a sense of urgency and inevitability as the city falls to militia, and basic freedoms and food quickly become rarities. When the situation turns dire, Saeed and Nadia decide to migrate as thousands already have and cobble together every last bit of their savings to find safe passage out. Caught in the whirlpool of refugees from around the world, Saeed and Nadia are tossed around like flotsam, the necessity of survival binding them together more than any starry-eyed notion of romance ever could. If at times the story of refugees facing no easy choice feels derivative, Hamid (How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, 2013) smooths over such wrinkles with spellbinding writing and a story of a relationship that sucks its own marrow dry for sustenance. The concept of the door is a powerful, double-edged metaphor here, representing a portal leading to a promised land that when closed, however, condemns one to fates from which there is no escape.--Apte, Poornima Copyright 2016 Booklist

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