Exit West

Sometimes the way to tell the story of immigrants or migrants is to talk about their journey. That’s often the story we hear in the news. Refugees make their way from Syria to Europe. Harrowing tales of boats, oceans, trains, camps, and tents are what the news tells us of migration.

But in this book, all of that is magically taken away. Instead we get the real, sometimes equally brutally hard work not of getting to be a place but being there.

I listened to this as an audiobook and Hamid is gifted narrator. But his biggest gifts lie in his writing. Hamid’s descriptions of unnamed Pakistan/India under civil durress, his brief, tantalizing details about his characters and their lives, the jumping back and forth from families and people struggling around the world, were each wonderfully done in their own ways.

Some criticism I’ve read of the book refers to its underdeveloped main characters. This is a criticism I largely agree with, but I don’t think it was bad enough so as to detract from the overall impact of the book. I very much enjoyed this book and would return to it again in the future as migration affects more and more of us around the world.