Man Booker Prize-nominated author Mohsin Hamid’s opens up on his latest novel Exit West, his dreams of a borderless world and how India needs to learn from Pakistan’s mistakes.
Shikha Kumar in the Hindustan Times:
In an unnamed city, a young woman, Nadia, defies social convention by moving out of her parents’ home to live by herself. She works at an insurance company, rides a bike in a burkha, smokes pot and orders psychedelic mushrooms online. Saeed lives with his parents, works for a company that designs billboards and meets Nadia at an evening corporate class. As their romance blossoms, their city is ravaged by war – buildings fall prey to bombs, there are retaliatory air strikes, phone signals are lost and internet connectivity suspended. Hope comes in the form of magical black doors that take you to safer places and like many others, Saeed and Nadia flee to reach first Mykonos, then London and finally, Marin in California.
Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West captures the complicated dynamics of lovers-turned-refugees. Over a Skype interview from Lahore, the Man Booker Prize-nominated author discusses his newest work, creative restrictions and more.
What led you to writing about migration, something that’s both topical and political right now?
I’ve been thinking about migration, and the backlash against refugees for a long time. I also take it personally, as somebody who’s lived a lot of his time in America and Britain. For mongrelized, hybridized people like me, these walls that are coming up between countries are terrible as it makes it impossible to connect the two parts of yourself. Also, after I moved back to Lahore eight years ago, the horrors that have happened in Syria and other places make a part of your mind say ‘what if it happened here?’ I wanted to explore this through a kind of first love – a love between two people who are young and changing very rapidly.