Exit West - Mohsin Hamid

I was expecting to enjoy this, my first novel by Mohsin Hamid: a short(ish) tale about two lovers escaping a war torn country and desperately finding solace in London. And this one has been hyped up — hyped like almost no other books released this year. I don’t get it. I really don’t.


The writing is . . . fine. And by that, I mean Hamid is able to string pleasant sentences together, occasionally resulting in passages beautiful enough to be worthy of this novel’s gorgeous cover. But for the most part, the prose is pedestrian. And not to mention the cast! The focus is on Nadia and Saeed, two of the blandest characters I’ve come across in literary fiction as of late. They were big nothings. I felt nothing for them throughout. They never really changed, or grew . . . . their arc felt so static and predictable. I never felt myself become involved in their journey.


I feel like perhaps Hamid was reaching for literary acclaim when writing this, resulting in a bland, one-size-fits-all novel that, while pleasant enough, isn’t particularly challenging or even engaging.