May 2018 Reading Group Selection: Exit West

In spare, crystalline prose, Hamid conveys the experience of living in a city under siege with sharp, stabbing immediacy. He shows just how swiftly ordinary life — with all its banal rituals and routines — can morph into the defensive crouch of life in a war zone. … [and] how insidiously violence alters the calculus of daily life. … By mixing the real and the surreal, and using old fairy-tale magic, Hamid has created a fictional universe that captures the global perils percolating beneath today’s headlines. ––Michiko Kakutani, New York Times 

May’s reading group selection is Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.

The Book Beat reading group will meet Wednesday, May 30th, 2018 @ 7:00PM at Goldfish Tea Cafe, located at 117 W. Fourth Street in Downtown Royal Oak.

All are welcome.

Get 15% off on the Current Reading Group Selection.

“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 came after us and love us, and this loss unites humanity, unites every human being.” –Moshin Hamid

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.


Mohsin Hamid was born in 1971 in Lahore, Pakistan, and moved to the US at the age of 18 to study at Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He then worked as a management consultant in New York, and later as a freelance journalist back in Lahore. 

His first novel was Moth Smoke (2000), winner of a Betty Trask Award and shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Moth Smoke was made into a television mini-series in Pakistan and an operetta in Italy, and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2000.

In 2007 his second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was published and shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. In 2008, it won the South Bank Show Annual Award for Literature and was shortlisted for the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book) and the 2008 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction). A short story based on the novel was also published in The Paris Review in 2006.

Hamid’s third novel How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013) won the Tiziano Terzani International Literary Prize and was shortlisted for the KLF Embassy of France Prize and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt International Literature Award. His fourth novel, Exit West (2017), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He has also published a book of essays entitled Discontent and Its Civilisations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York & London (2014). 

Mohsin Hamid now lives in London.

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