Delphine Strauss at the Financial Times:
Mohsin Hamid’s novels have always fused the personal and the political. First there was Moth Smoke (2000), a love story set in a Pakistan coloured by class and corruption, pot-smoking and power cuts. Next came The Reluctant Fundamentalist(2007), a pared-down parable charting the gradual disillusion of a young Pakistani with a high-flying career in corporate America.
First drafted just before the 9/11 attacks, it took years of rewriting before Hamid was content that his fictional world “would not be overwhelmed by an event that spoke so much more loudly than any individual’s story could”. Then, at the height of the emerging markets boom, came his subversive take on a self-help manual — How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013).
Discontent and its Civilizations, a disparate collection of non-fiction articles published since 2000, is split more explicitly into sections titled “life”, “art” and “politics” — but offers a similar blend of personal and political reflection, along with an insistence that the two are “inescapably intertwined”. Fifteen years living between New York, London and Lahore have made Hamid’s own experience — as he says in his introduction — that of a man caught in the middle of “what has been called ‘the war on terror’”.