In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young lovers hear whispers about doors that can whisk people far away, albeit perilously and for a price.
◉ “If I had to pigeonhole Exit West I would call it a romance, but it also felt dystopian and weirdly like science fiction. It was enough of a love story to elicit tears from me and my cold cynical heart so that’s saying something!
“The absolutely unbelievable aspects of the storyline were completely believable and the challenges the characters faced were so vividly portrayed I felt like I have gained real insight into many modern day crises society is facing (I don’t, but kudos to the author for making me feel like I do).
“Many times when reading this book I reflected on how the hell I got so lucky being born in a country that is politically stable and very safe and where I can believe in whatever I want with no fear of repercussions. The incremental way in which the characters’ freedom slowly disappeared left me feeling very uncomfortable and this was conveyed so simply and matter-of-factly it has genuinely made me more alert for ways in which this is happening in my own life.
“The previous Man Booker shortlister this book reminded me most of: Atonement by Ian McEwan.” – Suzy
◉ “This line in Exit West that sums up the book for me: ‘Everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives … we are all migrants through time.’ At a time when nationalism and immigration seems to be on the news and on people’s minds worldwide this book is exceptionally well timed. I think it will go down as a text that encapsulates a moment in history.
“Exit West is about movement and belonging and really showcases the point that we are all migrants, that we should not be excluding one another from any land because we are all visitors; who is to say who deserves to be here the most? This is reinforced with the use of descriptors such as natives, refugees, migrants, militants, words used so much we forget who is the native, who is the migrant, until they are all everything. Also, sadly Exit West shows that wherever you go there is conflict of some kind and often people are just resigned to it, which is incredibly sad.
“Mohsin Hamid puts all of this across in an emotionally charged novel that feels like it’s set in a WWII kind of environment, yet the characters have mobile phones and social media, plus they have doors through which they escape and appear in new countries. In new conflicts. The amalgamation of these three contexts is seamless so that as a reader, this reality is acceptable; unquestionable. Plus it is all mimicked in the tested romance that Hamid also manages to integrate! I’m totally in love with this book.” – Rachel