Readers! Take Refuge Within the Pages of Exit West

“…and when she went out it seemed to her that she too had migrated, that everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives, because we can’t help it. We are all migrants through time.

Exit West – Mohsin Hamid

My Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

In Summary of Exit West

“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.” –Goodreads

WARNING: war, brutality, racism, sexual assault, racism, trauma

READ IF YOU LIKE: magical realism, existential thinking, reading diverse experiences

PositivesNegatives
Explores a variety of themes, but does so in an authentic way despite the use of magical realismRun-on sentence style for many parts of the book
Offers a unique metaphor for the refugee experienceMay be hard to personally connect to characters due to a lack of warmth in their characterization
Characters’ home country is unnamed, which allows for readers to make their own connections

In this group, everyone was foreign, and so, in a sense, no one was.

The Review

Exit West is a book that I will forever recommend to anyone and everyone even though I’m aware that the style of writing may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

I will make it my forever mission to make people love magical realism.

There are many books on the market right now that explore the immigrant and refugee experience, but in a typical, straightforward manner. What if, however, there is a hint of magic involved?

That’s exactly what Exit West does best. It reframes the refugee experience to focus on the dream-like qualities of hope and wishing for something better. The realities that cause people to flee and become refugees are horrendous, forcing them to dream of a better life elsewhere. The doors the characters use as portals to other countries provide a sense of hope despite also representing fear of the unknown, but one may just step through and find something new.

I love how the author took a real, heart-wrenching experience and helps readers explore a topic they may not be able to relate to in a unique way. Some readers may feel a lack of personal connection to the characters due to Hamid’s vague, distant writing style; this never bothered me, though, as I felt that his [sometimes] ambiguous characters match the rest of the story’s style.

The only other real critique I have that may throw off readers is the style of writing. Hamid relies heavily on run-on sentences that are segmented by commas. Despite this, the novel is not difficult to read and the themes outweigh anything related to style.

Pick up Exit West and you will be opening a door (see what I did there?) to a whole new perspective.

Exit West Book Information

  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • ISBN:  978-0735212206
  • Format: Paperback
  • Length: 256 pages

Learn About & Support the Author – Mohsin Hamid

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