Reviews and Reception

The Atlantic :


“Mohsin Hamid’s striking, lyrical new novel explores how lives can be upended in the blink of an eye.”  ―Review by

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First Things :


“In an odd way, Mohsin Hamid’s fourth novel, Exit West, deserves the fulsome praise it has received from our literary establishment. The New Yorker’s pronouncement of “instantly canonical” may be premature, but it is perfectly logical. For Exit West champions a powerful orthodoxy: Every social problem can be solved by the free flow of capital, goods, and labor; and nothing that arises from this free flow can be a social problem.”  ―Review by Jude Russo, First Things

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The Guardian :


Exit West is animated – confused, some may think – by this constant motion between genre, between psychological and political space, and between a recent past, an intensified present and a near future. It’s a motion that mirrors that of a planet where millions are trying to slip away “from once fertile plains cracking with dryness, from seaside villages gasping beneath tidal surges, from overcrowded cities and murderous battlefields.”  ―Review by Sukhdev Sandhu, The Guardian

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The Harvard Crimson :


“Hamid delivers his poignant messages in beautiful but concise ways. Often the entire sentiment of a chapter can be summed up in one sentence. As Saeed and Nadia leave the country they have grown up in, they struggle to say their final goodbyes. The deep sorrow is not fully expressed until the thought-provoking line, “’or when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.'”  ―Review by Caroline E. Tew, The Harvard Crimson

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The New Yorker :


llustration by Jun Chen or a world with mysterious doors.

Illustration by Jun Cen.

“Hamid rewrites the world as a place thoroughly, gorgeously, and permanently overrun by refugees and migrants, its boundaries reconfigured so that “the only divisions that mattered now were between those who sought the right of passage and those who would deny them passage.” He doesn’t flinch from the mess and anger that come from redistribution and accommodation—but, still, he depicts the world as resolutely beautiful and, at its core, unchanged. The novel feels immediately canonical, so firm and unerring is Hamid’s understanding of our time and its most pressing questions.”  Review by Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker


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The New York Times :


“This gentle optimism, this refusal to descend into dystopia, is what is most surprising about Hamid’s imaginative, inventive novel. A graceful writer who does not shy away from contentious politics and urgent, worldly matters — and we need so many more of these writers — Hamid exploits fiction’s capacity to elicit empathy and identification to imagine a better world. It is also a possible world. “’Exit West’ does not lead to utopia, but to a near future and the dim shapes of strangers that we can see through a distant doorway.”  ―Review by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The New York Times

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“By mixing the real and the surreal, and using old fairy-tale magic, Hamid has created a fictional universe that captures the global perils percolating beneath today’s headlines, while at the same time painting an unnervingly dystopian portrait of what might lie down the road. The world in “Exit West” is, in many respects, an extrapolation of the world we live in now, with wars like the one in Syria turning cities into war zones; with political crises, warp-speed technological changes, and growing tensions between nativists and migrants threatening to upend millions of lives.”  ―Review by Michiko Kakutani, Books of The Times, The New York Times

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“It’s a breathtaking novel by one of the world’s most fascinating young writers, and it arrives at an urgent time. Hamid encourages to us to put ourselves in the shoes of others, even when they’ve lived lives much harder than anything we’ve endured. We have nothing in common except the most essential things, the things that make us human — as Hamid writes, ‘We are all migrants through time’.”  ―Review by Michael Schaub

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Exit West’s Homepage

Hunter Southall ’19

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