A life on the move can be exciting, but also tiring if you’re running away from something. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid follows two young people as they travel away from their home country to escape the brutalities of a civil war.
Two students, Nadia and Saeed, in a country stressed from civil war begin a relationship despite the obstacles and fears they face. When their city faces severe unrest many people, the young couple included, seek an escape from the violence they face. Finding a route out through doors to new places at a steep cost, Saeed and Nadia travel their way west, toward cities such as London, England and Marin, California. In trying to find somewhere they can settle without being demeaned as refugees, they work to find a sense of home and who they are as both individuals and a couple.
The story has a universal and timeless resonance that speaks to the dangers in the world as it offers a glimpse into the harsh realities of life as a refugee, which is a haunting reflection of contemporary situations. There’s a strange sense of setting, with the unnamed war-torn country that Saeed and Nadia are exiting from to find a safer place to live, all of which are named and well-described. Quickly depicting the budding relationship and the way that the two grow apart, the narrative develops realistically to accommodate the personal growth of Saeed and Nadia.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.