Book Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

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Genre: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism

Year Published: 2017

My Rating:★★★★☆

This book gives such a deep and personal perspective on the migrant story. I appreciate the messages it gives to those who perhaps aren’t as familiar with such stories, all the while adding a magical element so as to engage the reader just a tiny bit more.

In this book, we follow the relationship of Saeed and Nadia, two people living in a (presumably Middle Eastern) war-torn country. Through magical doors, they are able to escape with other refugees to safer lands. Although they escape to these safer lands, that does not mean they are entirely safe. They still have to survive, and survival is hard when you think of what has been left behind and how unstable your future really is.

The focal point of this story are not the magical doors, as one may think. They are simply a fantastical element used to transport the characters from one point to another. The main story is the journey that Saeed and Nadia take, from the moment they meet in a classroom, to their time in small refugee settlements on the outskirts of cities. I really appreciated that, as I think readers should be focusing more on this aspect anyway.

The writing in this was very raw and very honest. The author did not waste time with metaphors of how the characters felt about each other or what was going on around them, but was very straight and to the point. He gives Saeed and Nadia personalities of who they were with their families, and who they were when they were together. This, I think, is important, especially when the goal is to make the reader feel everything the main characters are going through, including what they lose and what they gain in this journey to safety.

I found this to be a very unique and important read. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good and succeeded in sending out a message: that refugees are people just like us. And just like us, they need help in times of sacrifice and suffering.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

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