Book: Exit West

Mohsin Hamid, Exit West, Hamish Hamilton, 2017.

Mohsin Hamid writes absolutely beautifully. He has these long, elegant sentences that never seem to get cumbersome. I’m sure there are people who would feel differently, but I do really like that kind of writing, and Hamid uses it in such a beautiful way. On multiple occasions reading I found myself lulled into the slithering quality of the prose only to find several clauses in that I was reading about a murder or an atrocity:

“But part of her still resisted the idea of moving in with him, with anyone for that matter, having at such great difficulty moved out in the first place, and become quite attached to her small flat, to the life, albeit often lonely, that she had built there, and also finding the idea of living as a chaste half lover, half sister to Saeed in close proximity to his parents rather bizarre, and she might have waited much longer had Saeed’s mother not been killed, a stray heavy-calibre round passing through the windscreen of her family’s car and taking with it a quarter of Saeed’s mother’s head, not while she was driving, for she had not driven in months, but while she was checking inside for an earring she thought she had misplaced, and Nadia, seeing the state Saeed and Saeed’s father were in when Nadia came to their apartment for the first time, on the day of the funeral, stayed with them that night to offer what comfort and help she could and did not spend another night in her own apartment again.”

That is one sentence. It’s a very powerful sentence. The contrast between the swaying monotony of the words and the horrific content jars you pretty intensely.


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