Exit West

Thoughts by Mohsin Hamid, Penguin Audio 2017, 4 hours 42 minutes

Challenge: Tournament of Books 
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible 
 Why I read this now: Next best to read from the TOB list.

MOTIVATION for READING: I listened to this one even though, like Eddy, it violates my audiobook length rule. I like looooong audiobooks and I hate feeling like I wasted a credit on such a short one! Oh well.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A couple in a war torn country escape via doors to other countries that don’t really want immigrants and migrants.

WHAT’s GOOD: It casts an important light on humanity and how we don’t treat well those from ‘other’.

What’s NOT so good: I didn’t get it. I don’t know, it just wasn’t for me. I do get that it has been highly praised and casts an important light on serious subjects but I didn’t like the matter of fact tone. I didn’t have enough emotion stirred up to care about Nadia and Saeed. Actually, not quite true – I liked Saeed’s father and mother. I didn’t get the other little side stories that would pop up and then never be tied up. I suppose that was the point but it was rather unjarring.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I don’t think this book on audio was the best way for me to experience. I am not saying that the author didn’t give an inspired reading but that my hearing this tale while driving in traffic didn’t work.

RATING: Two slices of pie for how I truly want to rate this but three on goodreads because I hate being contrarian and the book obviously is getting good attention — this book works for lots and lots of people (while others hated it as gimmicky) — I have no need to want to bring the rating down. I mean, it did come across as polished and important without being pretentious. I just didn’t like it that much. No pie mentioned.




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14 thoughts on “Exit West

  1. I didn’t care for this one either. I liked the first half where they were in their native land. But once they started traveling through magical doors, I lost interest. I read till the end hoping it would get better, but the ending was lackluster too.

  2. I didn’t like another book of his I read so I have avoided this one. Like you, I didn’t “get” it and was worried this would be more of the same. It sounds like it is, so I am glad I still haven’t caved.

    1. I actually do want to try (in print!) something else he is written but not sure which. I will have to do some research. And he’ll probably publish something else before I ever get to it.

  3. I can see how this would not be a good audio book while driving. I tend to listen to nonfiction in the car anyway, somehow I seem to be able to concentrate on it more, or it’s okay if I don’t hear every word. I don’t know. Anyway, I really liked this book and read it practically in one gulp, but it does elicit different opinions.

    Also, I got your postcard yesterday! Thank you! 🙂

  4. So I think I liked this book better than you did, but I too did not care for Saeed and Nadia that much. I was way more interested in the worldbuilding, and I wished I could read a version of the book that’s kinda more science-fiction-y, where the magic of the world and its implications were more the focus of the book. But I liked the writing a lot!

  5. I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you. Books with magical realism/fantasy elements usually divide readers. Which makes this an excellent book club book – lots of diverse opinions!

    I’m beginning to realise that I like/enjoy magic realism more than I thought I did. I loved the door aspect of this story. It made the story about either being here (in a war torn country) or there (so called safe country of refuge) not about the actual physical journey. The journey was a personal one instead.

    I’m one of the few bloggers who is keen to reread this one day. I think there was much more to the story than the first read revealed. I will keep you posted 😊

    1. Well…. No, I don’t think I minded the magical realism. I don’t have a problem with the genre or tag or whatever is meant when a book is said to have it. I didn’t like the tone. It felt almost mechanical and without spirit. Almost non-emotional. Maybe near the end when it was all, “and this happened. And then this happened. And then this happened. and then the were able to charge their phones. And then something else happened.”
      Not that I would be opposed to re-reading it, but I know me – I won’t.
      I’ve glad that you enjoyed your experience with this and I hope for very spirited discussion at TOB!

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