Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had somewhat high expectations for this book and the "doors" device it utilizes. I had heard good things and considering it's among the most noted books of its year, I thought it might offer something new or inventive to the situation it depicts. Ultimately though, I was a bit disappointed. It's a short book, about half the length of most, and it comes of largely as a summary. I never felt immersed in the story, more I felt perhaps like someone was recounting an experience to me over a coffee or dinner.
I thought the device of the "doors" was underutilized, as it simply allowed more movement to more places, rather than perhaps spending more time in one destination. This allows Hamid to sidestep some of the conflict that could tie down the characters, and potentially bog down the story in a refugees-at-the-border situation, and at first I found this compelling, but ultimately unfulfilling. I don't think the device even came into play until halfway through the novel. Because Exit West is so short, and they move around so much, again I felt it was largely a summary. Still, what narrative is provided is eloquent and well written.
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