Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York and London

Perspective can be a challenging quality to maintain in the rapidly shifting sociopolitics of the Internet Age. How does one cultivate a habit of seeing issues from many sides? For critically acclaimed novelist Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), the habit formed when trading one continent for the next. Living in Pakistan, the United States and England for significant periods of his life has afforded him a sharp perspective on an array of cultural forces. The short, crisp essays in Discontent and Its Civilizations are empathic yet critical reflections on family, nationalism, sex, economics, Islamophobia, literature, violence and other expressions of humanity.

In more personal essays, Hamid offers glimpses into his relationships and writing life. From a young age he has been attuned to the phenomenon of globalization. In the essay "Once Upon a Life" he describes how, at nine years old, he returned to Pakistan for the first time after spending his early boyhood in California, where he had forgotten Urdu for English. "It is a funny thing," he observes with the kind of wary wonderment threaded throughout the missives in this collection, "to lose your first language." To hear him tell it, the world is full of dazzling sights and lush experiences to those who seek them, but he never overlooks their consequences, either.

Affable and concise, Hamid also proves he is a journalist capable of distilling politically charged conflict into a compelling, measured form. Whether discussing Pakistani independence or the harrowing nature of U.S. drone strikes, Hamid pares his viewpoints to give readers not oversimplifications but, rather, perspective. --Dave Wheeler, publishing assistant, Shelf Awareness

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