Eastern Soul on Western Soil: Identity Crisis in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist


  • Soumia OURNID Hassiba Benbouali University of Chlef –


Americanness, False consciousness, Otherness, September 11th, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.


In more ways than one, literature can be viewed as a contributor to transcultural studies inasmuch as it provides a set of new perspectives on perceiving culture and collective identity. In this context, diasporic literature comes to the fore as an increasingly popular and relevant literary genre that discusses such issues in artistic and creative ways. Diaspora is a term broadly attached to the set of fictional works that explore the dilemmas, struggles, and pursuits of misfit characters in foreign cultures. Mohsin Hamid’s well-acclaimed novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), is among the best illustrations of this. The latter is a bildungsroman taking place at the highly delicate phase of pre- and post-9/11 attacks. The novel follows a Muslim Pakistani man’s journey toward the construction of an identity, and a loss thereof, thereby evoking inquiries about Americanness, fundamentalism, and Otherness. To this end, the present paper seeks to trace the growth of the protagonist’s culturally conflicted consciousness, while simultaneously reading it as an allegory to the map of colonialism’s collective consciousness. A textual analytical study is conducted from the postcolonial prism to conclude that individual identity aligns with the collective one regardless of the nature of cultural circumstances surrounding the less powerful subject.