(Book Review / 感想) Exit West / Mohsin Hamid

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In a city far away, bombs and assassinations shatter lives everyday. Yet, even here, hope renews itself, welling up through the rubble. Somewhere in this city, two young people are smiling, hesitating, sharing cheap cigarettes, speaking softly then boldly, falling in love.

どこか遠くのある街で、人々は日々、爆弾や暗殺で命を失っている。 しかし、こんなところでも希望は瓦礫の中から湧きあがるもの。 この街のどこかで、2人の若者は笑い、戸惑い、安タバコを共に吸い、柔らかく大胆に、恋に落ちます。

As the violence worsens and escape feels ever more necessary, they hear the rumour of mysterious black doors appearing all over the city, all around the world. To walk through a door is to find a new life – perhaps in Greece, in London, in California – and to lose the old one for ever.

暴力は激しさを増し、とうとう避難が必要になった時、彼らは世界中の街に現れる謎の黒いドアの噂を聞きつけます。 ドアを通り抜ければ、きっと、ギリシャ、ロンドン、カリフォルニアで、新しい生活を手に入れることができます。でも、前の生活は永遠に失うことになるのです。

What does it mean to leave your home behind? Can you belong to many places at once? And when the hour comes and the door stands open before you – will you go?

故郷を去るとはどういうことなのでしょうか?同時にいくつもの場所に馴染むことができるでしょうか? そして時が来て、あなたの目の前にドアが開いているとしたら – あなたはどうしますか?

(From the book cover. Translated by myself / 本の裏表紙より 訳:miki)

When I read this description of this book, instantly, I thought this must be the book I would love to read! In the end, I was so disappointed by a shallow world the story was set.


This book was so ‘light.’


Although it was not a long story, I found it hard to finish. To put simply, it was not my taste. There are multiple reasons for this.


The storyline was not so magical nor realistic. I felt it was incomplete in a tone of the book. The magical door was explained weirdly realistic so not sounded magical at all. I found no spectacular nor thrill in it. Very plain. Not dramatic.


The main characters, Saeed and Nadia were unlikable characters. Saeed was always grumpy and Nadia was always unpredictable. The personality of them were not well explained. I felt so distant from them, as if I was hearing about someone I don’t know from someone not so close. Also, I found no romantic scene between them. It was so hard to imagine how these two people who were so different could fall in love.


The fact that Nadia kept wearing the black robe was a mystery to me. I could not sympathise with her while she was so westernised from the beginning, why she wanted to keep wearing it? Because I am not Muslim nor particularly religious, I wanted to know the reasonable explanation of why does it mean by ‘wearing a robe to signal’as Nadia said in the book.


So much was going on in this story, especially in the part of London, but it went too quickly without explaining enough to put myself deeply in the world of the book.


Somehow, near the end of the book, the sentimental feeling of the couple drifting apart was vividly described. It was really well written, compared to the other parts I was hardly grabbed by the book.


I felt as if I was watching a story styled music video…just seeing something is going on, feeling so remote.


I know the main focus was different, but ‘Americanah’ described issue of immigrants, women and nationality much better. Exit West might be very very very short and light version of this. If you want to read something about immigrants quickly, maybe, Exit West might work for you.

物語の焦点は異なりますが、以前読んだAmericanahの方が移民や女性、国籍の問題をよく描いていると思いました。Exit Westは、そのすっごく短くて「軽い」バージョンのような。もし、移民に関する物語で、短いものをお探しなら、Exit Westを手に取ってみるのもアリかもしれません。


More reviews available on my book blog Intermission Ambience
書評ブログの Intermission Ambience にも本のレビューを書いています。あわせてぜひご覧ください!

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