Book review: Exit West

“We are all migrants through time.”

This novel by Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid follows Nadia and Saeed, two lovers from an unnamed city during war. The novel gently and quietly explores topics of immigration, femininity, sexuality, and religion. Hamid artfully allows the story of these two young people to unfold, and leaves it to the reader to form opinions.

Personally, I was intrigued by Nadia’s narrative and her personal views. The topic of what she wears is brought up so often in the novel. The character displays incredible self-awareness in her clothing choices, and refuses to change her behaviour for other people. I thought this was a particularly important point.

I also thought it was incredibly poignant the way Hamid focused on the topic of immigration and refugees. By removing country borders, Hamid has asked questions about what it is to be an immigrant, and a refugee. I particularly enjoyed the points Hamid focused on about the idea of natives, and land ownership.

As well as Nadia and Saeed’s journey, we get brief glimpses into the lives of other characters. Whether they’re migrants through place or through time, each character makes his or her own particular journey.

I rated this novel 5 stars because I thought the writing and the storytelling was so unbelievably beautiful. I think the ideas brought up in this novel will stay with me.


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