Critical Assessment

“Hamid is unobtrusively, but constantly, addressing the reader, hinting at how to read his novel; how not to be manipulated and led . . . but to become attuned to its hidden, recurrent inversions. There’s an almost delightful allegorical symmetry to the flow of events, as well as a sensuousness and finish that might belong to some other form of art: music, perhaps.

“Despite its minute probing into the narrator’s thoughts, this is not a conventional psychological novel; much of its magic – the enchantment and innocence of the relationship, the absolute familiarity and foreigness of America, the fragrant boisterousness and menace of Lahore – hinges on the unsaid. Hamid manages marvellously well in creating a novel that’s rendered entirely in terms of the spoken word, and governed by the shape of what’s evaded or not uttered.

Amit Chaudhuri, “Not Entirely Like Me,” London Review of Books, October 4, 2007.

First Excerpt

“Often, as we stood or sat in the midst of an impeccably turned-out crowd, I would observe that she was utterly detached, lost in a world of her own. Her eyes were turned inward, and remarks made by her companions would register only indirectly on her face, like the shadows of clouds gliding across the surface of a lake. She smiled when it was brought to her attention that she seemed distant, and said she was, as usual, spacing out. But I had come to suspect that hers were not merely the lapses of the absent-minded; no, she was struggling against a current that pulled her within herself, and her smile contained the fear that she might slip into her own depths, where she would be trapped, unable to breathe.


Second Excerpt

“What bad luck! The lights have gone. But why do you leap to your feet? Do not be alarmed, sir; as I mentioned before, fluctuations and blackouts are common in Pakistan. Really, you are overreacting; it is not yet so dark. The sky above us still contains a tinge of color, and I can see you quite clearly as you stand there with your hand in your jacket. I assure you: no one will attempt to steal your wallet. For a city of this size, Lahore is remarkably free of that sort of petty crime. Do sit down, I implore you, or you shall force me to stand as well. As it is, I feel rude to remain in this position while my guest is uncomfortable.

“Ah, they are back! Thank goodness. It was nothing more than a momentary disruption. And you – to jump as though you were a mouse suddenly under the shadow of a hawk! I would offer you a whiskey to settle your nerves, if only I could. A Jack Daniels, eh? You smile; I have hit upon a spirit to which you are partial. Sadly, all the beverages in this market that can trace their origin to your country are carbonated soft drinks. One of those will do? Then I will summon our waiter immediately.