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"Moving, audacious, and indelibly human." -Entertainment Weekly, "A" rating
A finalist for the Man Booker Prize and a New York Times bestseller, the astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands.
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet--sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors--doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . . Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-02
- Reviewer: Staff
Hamids (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia) trim yet poignant fourth novel addresses similar themes as his previous work and presents a unique perspective on the global refugee crisis. In an unidentified country, young Saeed and burqa-wearing Nadia flee their home after Saeeds mother is killed by a stray bullet and their city turns increasingly dangerous due to worsening violent clashes between the government and guerillas. The couple joins other migrants traveling to safer havens via carefully guarded doors. Through one door, they wind up in a crowded camp on the Greek Island of Mykonos. Through another, they secure a private room in an abandoned London mansion populated mostly by displaced Nigerians. A third door takes them to Californias Marin County. In each location, their relationship is by turns strengthened and tested by their struggle to find food, adequate shelter, and a sense of belonging among emigrant communities. Hamids storytelling is stripped down, and the books sweeping allegory is timely and resonant. Of particular importance is the contrast between the migrants tenuous daily reality and that of the privileged second- or third-generation native population whod prefer their new alien neighbors to simply disappear. Agent: Jay Mandel, WME Entertainment. (Mar.)
Best Books of 2017
After much discussion and determined lobbying for our personal favorites, the editors of BookPage have reached a consensus on the year’s best books. These are the books we can’t forget—and can’t stop sharing with readers wherever we go.
#1 Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere
In the privileged community of Shaker Heights, wealth and comfort crumble in the firelight of Ng’s brilliant storytelling.
#2 George Saunders
Lincoln in the Bardo
The incomparable winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize is a heartbreaking, funny, strange reflection on grief after loss.
#3 Elif Batuman
This hilarious debut pulls no punches in depicting the absurdity of campus life and the particularly awkward magic of early adulthood.
#4 Mohsin Hamid
Spiced with unexpected magic, this imaginative love story follows a young couple who join a wave of migrants as their city collapses.
#5 Stephanie Powell Watts
No One Is Coming to Save Us
In a riveting riff on The Great Gatsby, Watts’ first novel focuses on the residents of a down-on-its-luck North Carolina town.
#6 Min Jin Lee
Addicting and powerful, this superb novel follows four generations of a Korean family carving out a life in Japan despite racism and war.
#7 Jennifer Egan
During World War II, one woman becomes the first female diver at the Brooklyn docks. Hold your breath and sink in deep.
#8 Walter Isaacson
Leonardo da Vinci
Isaacson delves into Leonardo’s life and pulls back the curtain of genius on one of the most brilliant men who ever lived.
#9 Ron Chernow
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author offers a richly detailed, uncommonly compelling biography of Ulysses S. Grant.
#10 Hala Alyan
At the heart of Alyan’s debut are enormous themes of time and family, grounded by piercing insight and striking, poetic language.
#11 Jesmyn Ward
Sing, Unburied, Sing
This intricately layered story with supernatural elements offers a brutal view of racial tensions in the modern-day American South.
#12 David Sedaris
Theft by Finding
Beloved humorist Sedaris shares 20 years of observations in this collection of diary entries that toe the line between hilarious and weird.
#13 Nina Riggs
The Bright Hour
With levity and bittersweetness amid the worst moments, Riggs’ account of living with cancer is feisty, uplifting reading.
#14 Dennis Lehane
Since We Fell
Already optioned for film, this bewitching thriller follows an intrepid journalist as she uncovers her family’s darkest secrets.
#15 Scott Kelly
After spending a year in space, veteran astronaut Kelly has returned to Earth to tell us what life is like among the stars.
#16 Sherman Alexie
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
Don’t trust just anyone to break your heart, but do trust Alexie and this unconventional memoir of his relationship with his mother.
#17 Viet Thanh Nguyen
Nine superb, understated stories from the Pulitzer Prize winner find characters stretched between cultures, countries and desires.
#18 Timothy B. Tyson
The Blood of Emmett Till
The most notorious hate crime in American history receives the insightful, fearless inquiry it deserves.
#19 Suzy Hansen
Notes on a Foreign Country
Hansen’s investigation into U.S. involvement abroad is a compelling look at the consequences of interventionist foreign policy.
#20 Richard Ford
Ford’s memoir is a gentle testament to the powerful love his parents had for each other and for their son.
#21 Patricia Lockwood
This unforgettable memoir offers a heartbreakingly funny look at an award-winning poet’s unconventional Catholic upbringing.
#22 Kamila Shamsie
Shamsie’s confident, dreamy reimagining of Antigone grasps a throbbing heart of love and loyalty.
#23 Kayla Rae Whitaker
Two best friends and successful cartoonists navigate the creative process in this heartfelt debut.
#24 Sarah Perry
After the Eclipse
A daughter attempts to come to terms with her mother’s murder in this emotional true-crime memoir.
#25 Inara Verzemnieks
Among the Living and the Dead
The granddaughter of Latvian refugees pieces together her history.