By Moshin Hamid
Riverhead Books, 9780735212206, February 2018, 256pp.
The Short of It:
Not at all what I was expecting.
The Rest of It:
When my book club selected this book several months ago at our yearly selection meeting, I was eager to read it because of all the reviews I had read but I skimmed those reviews because I didn’t want to know too much about it.
Well, I have to tell you that the story is very unique. In an unnamed, war-torn country, two people meet. Nadia is more head-strong and determined and Saeed is more soft-spoken and sincere but the two marry and find themselves transported to other countries as they try to escape the current war zone they are in. They move from country to country by going through doors, sometimes guarded, sometimes not.
It took me a little while to realize that they were actually going from country to country by these doors. Yes, it’s very “Narnia” and to be honest, I didn’t love this fantastical element. However, after discussing it with the group, I do understand the author’s choice to use it as a means to convey their immediate situation. It would be difficult to enter into a country and not know the language or to be hated, instantly, upon your arrival. Open the door, step through and immediately find yourselves in an uncomfortable situation.
Given the current state of the country I live in, I feel that the author did a good job of raising our awareness without shoving it down our throats. It hit all of us while discussing the book that the immigration issue is only going to get worse as people flee their countries out of desperation.
In the end, this was not a “fun” or entertaining read but it’s not a dark or depressing read either. The author keeps it somewhat light but it’s definitely a story that stays with you.
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6 thoughts on “Review: Exit West”
Hmm… interesting, but probably not for me. The Narnia-like elements could be another negative. I appreciate your thoughts on this one, Ti.
I don’t think I’d like the fantastical element either.
In the end, the doors did not bother me so much as the lack of character development. I felt the whole story was a bit too superficial, moved too quickly, and did not delve nearly enough into various other nuances of the refugee crisis as I would have liked.
I see the use for the fantastical element…but not my favorite device in a book. Sounds like a good discussion book, though.
Very good for discussion even though it wasn’t a fave of mine.
I’m not sure how well I would do with the fantastical doors either, but it sounds like it raises some interesting issues/discussions.