Book review: Exit West

Mohsin Hamid’s fourth novel opens promisingly with the meeting of Nadia and Saeed, two slightly oddball 20-somethings, in a nameless city that is sliding toward civil war.

Book review: Exit West

Mohsin Hamid

Hamish Hamilton, £14.99;

ebook, £8.99

At first, I was wholly convinced by Mohsin’s delicate depiction of their passion, acted out in a bizarre Millennial world which encompasses both emotional reliance on social media and sectarian throat-slitting.

The country’s descent into barbarism is all the more horrifying for being glimpsed through the narrow prism of two self-absorbed lovers.

Would that he had left the story there.

But the lovers’ escape from the conflict is achieved via a lurch into magical realism.

This robs the novel of a key detail of the migrant experience — the physical brutalities of the passage to Europe.

Thereafter, the characters lack human agency, and their travails cease to be interesting.

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