"All over the world, doors are appearing. They lead to other cities, other countries, other lives. And in a city gripped by war, Nadia and Saeed are newly in love. Hardly more than strangers, desperate to survive, they open a door and step through. But the doors only go one way. Once you leave, there is no going back."

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid review: migrants and magic

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is a fiction novel with a touch of magical realism. It is set in Morocco, Greece, England, and the United States. The book was published in the US by Riverhead Books in English on March 7, 2017. In the UK, it was published by Hamish Hamilton Limited on February 8, 2018.

It was shortlisted for the 2017 Booker Prize. It was also finalised for the 2018 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction and longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence for Fiction that same year. It was shortlisted for the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award. All this popularity paved way for its movie adaptation, which is in the pre-production stage.

The plot revolves around a migrant couple from Marrakesh and their experience migrating across Europe and the States. It is also a story about long-lasting friendship and love, one that is very different from the romance novels one gets to read these days. Overall, the love story perfectly depicts the contemporary migrant experience.

“to love is to enter into the inevitability of one day not being able to protect what is most valuable to you”

Then there is the magical realism aspect. The ‘doors’ were a perfect illustration of the real-life human smuggling prevalent in the war-hit areas.

Every few chapters random characters were introduced with a short story of their own. The purpose of doing this completely eluded me. I was left hoping for the author to tie the loose ends at a later point.

“We are all migrants through time”

I liked the book so much I did not want it to end. At the very least, I wanted it to have more words. It ended too soon in my opinion, leaving me craving for more of Nadia’s wit and Saeed’s dedication, and Hamid’s beautiful writing style, style with its long and meaningful sentences, sentences just like this one, but better, much much better.

Purchase your copy of Exit West. Also, refer to its Goodreads listing.

Cover image courtesy of Hamish Hamilton Limited.

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