In an unnamed country in the Middle East, besieged by violent militants, mysterious black doors begin to appear, offering escape into safer, Western terrain. Soon identical doors appear throughout the world, allowing millions of migrants to flood places like Greece, London, and Australia. Among these refugees are young lovers, Nadia and Saeed, through whom the reader gets to experience the extreme dislocation, privations, and freedoms of living in exile. Mohsin Hamid explores the current refugee crisis and Western responses to it in visceral, sometimes magical terms, crafting a novel that is both an elegy to homelands lost and an optimistic reframing of what "home" may mean in our rapidly changing world. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
This book really touched me. It was so timely and relevant. The tools Mohsin uses to describe the plight of refugees around the world are, well, magical. I was mesmerized. Recommended By Nan S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Time Magazine, the New York Times, Washington Post and The Huffington Post
From the internationally bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a love story that unfolds across the rapidly changing face of a volatile world.
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through....
Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
"[As] Nadia and Saeed find their relationship tested by the desperate moves they’ve made, there are sharp observations and lyrical turns of phrase…Saeed’s feeling that he and Nadia are 'adrift in a world where one could go anywhere but still find nothing’ speaks powerfully to the dilemma of exiles and refugees everywhere." Chicago Tribune
"No novel is really about the cliche called 'the human condition,' but good novels expose and interpret the particular condition of the humans in their charge, and this is what Hamid has achieved here. If in its physical and perilous immediacy Nadia and Saeed’s condition is alien to the mass of us, Exit West makes a final, certain declaration of affinity: 'We are all migrants through time.'" Washington Post
"This is the best writing of Hamid’s career… and [he] somehow makes it look easy. There’s not a wasted word in Exit West; every one is considered carefully…[R]eaders will find themselves going back and savoring each paragraph several times before moving on. He’s that good. It’s a breathtaking novel by one of the world’s most fascinating young writers, and it arrives at an urgent time." NPR.org
"Hamid’s dynamic yet lapidary books have all explored the convulsive changes overtaking the world.… His compelling new novel, Exit West, is no exception.… Writing in spare, crystalline prose, Hamid conveys the experience of living in a city under siege with sharp, stabbing immediacy. He shows just how swiftly ordinary life — with all its banal rituals and routines — can morph into the defensive crouch of life in a war zone.… [and] how insidiously violence alters the calculus of daily life.… By mixing the real and the surreal, and using old fairy-tale magic, Hamid has created a fictional universe that captures the global perils percolating beneath today’s headlines, while at the same time painting an unnervingly dystopian portrait of what might lie down the road." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"It was as if Hamid knew what was going to happen to America and the world, and gave us a road map to our future… At once terrifying and, in the end, oddly hopeful." Ayelet Waldman, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Mohsin Hamid is the internationally bestselling author of Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Discontent and its Civilizations, and Exit West, coming in March 2017. His award-winning novels have been adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and translated into more than thirty languages. His essays and short stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker, among many other publications. Hamid now resides in Lahore, his birthplace, after living for a number of years in New York and London.