Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mohsin Hamid interview

The longlist for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, announced last week, featured several lesser-known writers, including Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

He's interviewed in The Guardian by Decca Aitkenhead.
When we meet for breakfast in a cafe near his Kensington flat, I wonder if he feels awkward at all about the implication that he owes his success to Osama bin Laden. After all, one could argue, al-Qaida's atrocities in the US have proved to be the making of him.

"Well I wouldn't resist that at all," he agrees smoothly. "I mean, the Holocaust was the making of Primo Levi. Anti-black sentiment was the making of James Baldwin. And certainly, I think that this current tension between the west and Islam is, for a westernised Muslim like myself, identity-forming as an artist." He pauses. "But I would very happily trade a world where I didn't have to worry about my family in Pakistan - which American presidential candidates talk about invading - for the success of my second novel." Hamid directs a witheringly polite smile at me, and takes a sip of green tea. "I'd be happy to make that swap."

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