A young couple fall in love in the midst of a collapsing Middle Eastern society. As the situation worsens, they become de facto prisoners inside of their own homes, afraid to leave do to the constant threat of bombings and shootings.
They begin to hear of magical doors which transport immigrants to stable North American and European countries, where others in their position have decided to flee to. The rumors become more and more common, and eventually the couple trust an agent to take them to a door, which in fact transports them.
Upon arrival they face all types of dislocation, and journey to various refugee camps around the world. Eventually their relationship comes to a close, and they try to find belonging in foreign cultures.
A blurb on the back cover describes the book as “compulsively readable”, and I agree that this is an apt description of this work, and all of the Hamid books I’ve read.
This book is a further exploration of his favorite themes: immigration, dislocation, painful romance, and open, not-so-happy endings. I’m not sure why he chose to include the magic portals from broken countries to Western ones. I’m not sure what they were supposed to represent or what statement he’s making with their inclusion. They were distracting for me and I think the story didn’t benefit from them, and the story would’ve remained unchanged if they’d just taken an airplane or boat. I was very confused for quite a while when reading, because he didn’t include magical elements in other books and I thought that it must have been a dream sequence or wishful thinking for some time.
I enjoyed this book a lot—it is just such a smooth read—but I prefer The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia.
Related Books: The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia.
Recommend to Others: Read the two mentioned above first
Reread Personally: no