Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid, is the story of two strangers in an unnamed country who fall in love.
The relationship between these two strangers, Saeed and Nadia, begins when the two cross paths in a community class. They grow closer as the country’s political climate worsens –– landing them in the middle of a vicious civil war.
Surrounded by terror, Saeed and Nadia find comfort in each other. When hearing rumors of guarded doorways with chance exits, they plan their escape together.
Hamid’s writing is at once lyrical and poetic, while remaining light and readable.
The lightness in the novel is contrasted with overarching themes of love and isolation. He makes these themes universal by leaving people and places unnamed, and parts of the plot ambiguous.
Hamid uses “vignettes” (brief glimpses into the lives of others performing mundane tasks) throughout the novel. Combined with no names or identities, these people and their situations become universal. These vignettes are one of the highlights parts of the book, because as unrelated as they were to Saeed and Nadia, Hamid perfectly captures the often forgotten simplicity of humanity.
The other nice thing about this book is its length. And though it deals with heavy themes, Exit West is a fast and enjoyable read, making it the perfect companion to any courses you may be taking.
Whether it acts as a break from your work, or compliments what you’re learning, Exit West pairs well with the stress and busyness that comes with being a student.
Find a copy of Exit West at the Killam Memorial Libraryor the Halifax Public Library.