Acquired via BookCrossing 06 Nov 2009 – BookRing

A monologue narrated by Changez to a mysterious American in a Lahore cafe, this is an intriguing book that is difficult to put down. Changez takes his audience through his life from arrival in America for college aged 18, his relationships to Pakistan and America, his relationship with the American, Erica (see what they did there?) and his gradual disenchantment with his Westernised life. The part about his reaction to 9/11 is, I think, supposed to be shocking, and is indeed not presented in isolation, given a strong and complex context. I wasn’t shocked, but then again I think I’d maybe be typical of the people that would pick up this book in the first place.

I hope I’m wrong there, as this book does a lot to “normalise” and contextualise the kind of person Changez appears to be, an immigrant trying to settle in a new country, sometimes becoming more American than the Americans, sometimes hopelessly out of his depth and out of place.

The atmosphere of the cafe, probably because I’ve sat in similar in Tunisia, was beautifully done, and the subtle build-up of menace as we realise that, let alone Changez, we really don’t know who this American is, was really well done too.

A compulsive, interesting read.