End of Exit West?

Nadia returned to her hometown after living half a life without Saeed. She learned that he was nearby and planned to meet, being separate from him for 50 years.

I find this interesting because this makes me question Saeed’s perspective and life. Did he return home at the same time as Nadia? Is it a coincidence?

Saeed was more reluctant to the idea of leaving his home after learning that his father would stay behind. His father staying for the reason that he felt closer to his wife in their hometown. The reader is presented with the idea that Saeed may have moved back. The reason could be to feel closer to his past loved ones. Does Saeed return to feel the presence of his father? Did he settle there to permanently feel closer to his family?

This being a stretch but it still raises a question in my head. Could Saeed have moved back for another reason except his loved ones? Did he want to feel the presence or feeling of his past relationship with Nadia? They met in this city, in the middle of a war. Their relationship flourished here, and never faltered despite having many challenges in this city. I believe he has moved on but will continue to love Nadia as a member of his family but I find it interesting to think about his motives to moving back.

Phones – connecting disconnectors

Image result for connected world clipart

In Mohsin Hamid’s “Exit West,” one of his focuses is the effect of smartphones in the human and migrant experience. In the novel, Nadia and Saeed differ in their relationships to their phones: Saeed tries to limit his use to an hour a day as to not get lost, and Nadia fills her loneliest time.

The phones are both a tool and a problem in our lives. We are infinitely connected to all parts of the world, can instantly reach out to friends, and have knowledge at our fingertips. However, they also isolate us socially from the physical world around us, serve as crutches when people forget how to small talk, and a source of stress for those who suffer from “Nomophobia”(the fear of being without a phone).

In their phones were antennas, and these antennas sniffed out an invisible world, as if by magic, a world that was all around them, and also nowhere, transporting them to places distant and near, and to places that had never been and would never be

– Mohsin Hamid

Nadia’s strong affinity for the internet may also have been the reason why she was able to adapt better than Saeed to the new places they lived. Yet, also a way that the couple distanced themselves, finding it too tiresome to try to interact when they were together, opting to scrolling the web. Thus, Hamid argues that in the migrant experience phones are both useful distractors, and also disconnectors at a time when one needs to find a community.

Vignettes, Questions, Themes, and Life

To begin with, I think the use of the vignettes throughout the book were really neat. I didn’t really value, or understand, them until I finished the book and reflected on what I read. The first vignette, about the lady in Australia, actually threw me off. I thought that we were going to learn about the lady at the end of the book, or that scene would be resolved and I would have an understanding as to what happened. I came to realize that there would be more of these scenes, and they would never be resolved, leaving me with questions. Like I said earlier, I didn’t really like this aspect of the book, but I now feel like I have an understanding as to why Hamid did this. Obviously the vignettes are scenes of people going through doors and entering a new life, but there is an underlying theme of all of them, that relates to a theme of the book.

First off, I think that the reason that the vignettes are left unfinished and unresolved is because that is what life is like for every person in them. I always had this feeling of confusion, wondering what’s going to happen, how does this get resolved. I think Hamid was trying to put the reader in the mind of the immigrant. There is no guarantee of what will happen next, and there’s no way to know how everything will end up. On top of that, the fact that in all the different vignettes there were different short term outcomes, like the man leaving England for Africa, which made him happy. Or the family who made it out of their city, only to be taken aback by an unknown group of people likely the books form of ICE, or something along those lines. That shows that the outcome can have many different forms. This theme of not knowing, a cliffhanger, is throughout the whole book. To show this, the final words of the book are ” They rose and embraced and parted and did not know, then, if that evening would ever come” 231. The ending of the book leaves another cliffhanger to the reader. I think this novel shows the overall mystery in life, and how nothing can be promised, that there is no guarantee as to how things will end up. To finish though, I think Hamid did an amazing job with this novel, because it shows the mystery of the displacement of people, and life itself.

The Power of Love in Exit West

Exit West, by Moshin Hamid, is a novel about love and migration. The novel follows the love story of Saeed and Nadia, A pair of refugees fleeing their home town on the verge of civil war. However, unlike most romance novels, Saeed and Nadia’s relationship ends with an amicable, fizzle-out breakup.

Compared to most contemporary novels, this ending is quiet odd. We are so used to seeing the story of young lovers fleeing the familiarity of their home and embarking on a long, difficult journey to find somewhere safe were they can be happy and grow old together.

This is not the case in Exit West. Yes Nadia and Saeed venture on a strenuous journey, living in dangerous refugee camps in tense situations; however, the journey only drives them slowly apart and not in the way you think. Usually the couple in a love story is forced apart by external forces, a conflict that seeks to destroy the couples love. However, Nadia and Saeed never experience this type of division. They just slowly drift apart without any drama or action.

Hamid’s choice to include the unorthodox love story in Exit West is not without reason. Nadia and Saeed’s story makes the novel feel more honest and realistic. It is more accurate to what a lot of people might experience in their relationships. In this way, Hamid strengthens the credibility of his argument and makes the whole story more believable and relatable.

Traditional American Movies vs Woman At War


After watching Benedikt Erlingssons bewildering Woman At War it became extremely apparent that movies in America, carry a traditional format. There are numerous do’s and don’t that they typically follow in order to get those ratings up and awards won. Although Woman at War taking place in Iceland, brings a new and fresh perspective that we as Americans should follow. 
This film captures the double life of 50 year old Halla, a free spirited choir teacher as well as passionate environmental activist. As her passion for the earth grows, her acts become more bold with the intentions of halting Islandic negotiations with a new aluminum base company. In the midst of her already chaotic life, her past creeps up heaving a curveball that essentially forces her to prioritize. As she faces this internal struggle of motherhood and fighting for her beliefs, she decides to pursue one final mission. 
Erlingssons creates this exotic experience for viewers using his resources instrumentally and geographically along with the incorporation of dramedy. His admiration for Halla is transparent, as are his activist sympathies, as they are scattered throughout and make for an overall thrilling experience. Not only this but the story dissects what it means to look, sound and act like a hero without playing into stereotypical hero and gender roles. Focusing on her roles of activism, Hallas environmental stance is not something you would typically see from a women. 
I personally loved the movie. You never saw what was coming next, which is rare. From start to finish I was left on my toes, especially the ending. I found that the instrumental aspect helped me feel more, which I’m sure was the point. Being able to see the band and singers making their music, and react just as I was, was a different and positive experience. It acted as a break to reflect on what had just happened in the film, but its like you’re sharing it with them as well. I also appreciated the importance of family as it was stressed through those interactions with her sister and cousin. Along with the sacrifice her sister makes and the lengths Halla herself goes through to pursue this dream of motherhood. The humor aspect was appropriately distributed and I found the jokes are easy to comprehend and most importantly, actually funny. Overall, this is definitely something I would recommend and invest myself in watching again.

Doors in Exit West: Magical Portals or Hidden Methods?

In Mohsin Hamid’s novel, Exit West, main characters Nadia and Saeed travel to new places through doors. Although Hamid does not explicitly state that these doors are magical, context often leads the reader to believe so. However, the lack of explanation of the methods through which these doors function leads me to believe that they are not really magical portals, but instead metaphors for methods through which migrants can travel.

As can be seen through the news, there are many ways that people smuggle other people out of dangerous situations to safer places. For instance, there was a truck found in Britain that contained 39 dead Vietnamese people, which is believed to have been a truck full of hopeful migrants. Unfortunately, in this case these people did not survive their passage, but they found the opportunity through an open door, so to speak.

Hamid references these types of doors in a magical sense, but only because these open doors often present illegal and dangerous methods through which to act. Instead of detailing Nadia and Saeed’s journeys through the doors, Hamid decides to focus on what lays at the other side. Therefore, he does not have to reveal and expose such types of methods. He can also establish more focus on Nadia and Saeed’s story as migrants as they live in their destinations, not necessarily as they journey to these places.

The Nuance of Relationships In Exit West

In Exit West, Hamid explores various different themes by subverting the reader’s expectations about relationships, Muslims,  and migration. I specifically liked the way he showed the nuances of relationships and developed a theme of how along with a change in place, comes a change in people. As he explained in his book talk, often times migrants are dehumanized and characterized solely as “the other” by westerners. Thus, we tend to forget that these people have intense relationships, homes, and families that are all hard to leave. 

I found it really powerful how he went through the different stages of romantic relationships between Saeed’s parents and also Nadia and Saeed. The inclusion of the passage about Saeed’s parent’s sex life subverted my preconceived notions about how parents and devout relgious people normally act. The mom initated sex more often and shared a passionate relationship with her husband in the beginning stages of the relationship. Overtime, their sex life fizzled down, but the they were still each other’s best friends and thus stayed together until the mom got killed. Additionally, I liked how in both the description of Saeed’s mother and Nadia, Hamid characterized the women as more sexually aggressive and thereby flipped the male/female binary. 

Although I didn’t want to see Nadia and Saeed grow apart, I thought the ending was both fitting and realistic. It’s no question that going through such a large event like migrating to a different country changes people, so it makes sense they separated. I also liked that they were able to amicably separate, something that is rarely seen in movies or books today. It is expected that relationships have to end when people develop a deep hatred for one another, but in this case they chose to end on good terms and still have occasional contact. I thought it was a very sweet ending where they were able to reflect on their time together and be at peace that they didn’t marry, but still smile at their past.

The Invisible Third Person in Saeed and Nadia’s Relationship

Saeed and Nadia’s relationship is not one we often see in novels or movies. Compared to many representations, which come off as spontaneous and easy, the two characters relationship reaches depths of pain, irritation, and fear that is rarely ever shown. But, more rare, is seeing the death of a relationship. And a “death” is exactly what occurs in “Exit West”, or at least how it is portrayed by Hamid.

Hamid writes the relationship of Saeed and Nadia like a third person, complete with multiple facets and an ability to be born and to die. Throughout the book, this new person goes through so many changes and shifts: innocently childlike and playful at the beginning of the book; hopeful but weighed down as the two start travelling across the world; broken and tired nearing the end, but somehow still aware. Just as the two characters grow, so does the relationship, but it almost seems as though the relationship is responding in accordance with it’s environment, as a person interacts with their environment, and not as a result of the characters individual actions. And in the end, just as a person dies, the relationship must as well. Nearing the end of the book Saeed and Nadia bury a drone, and soon after part ways and start separate lives. This burial isn’t just the literal burial of the drone but seems to represent an understanding of the end of another life, their relationship. Something Hamid does well is make the end natural. A natural death, just as it was a natural beginning. Because although this third person died, it shouldn’t prevent a celebration of it’s life or an acknowledgment of it’s existence. Hamid makes sure of this.

Are the Black Screens of Our Phones the Actual Magic Doors?

Mohsin Hamid in his novel Exit West feeds the readers the theme of escape. Whether through technology, drugs, or the mysterious magic doors, the people in the novel are constantly finding an escape of their perilous reality.

Although these mystical doors are unrealistic, they’re fascinating because they do something that seems so intangible; transport us to another part of the world in an instant. However, we have this power in something much smaller than a door; in our phones. Saeed and Nadia both use their phones – Nadia much more attached to hers than Saeed – to escape their reality. Phones are described to transport them to “places distant and near”, similar to the magical doors that end up physically taking them away from their homeland.

These doors aren’t such a foreign concept to us. As interested as I was by them, I came to the realization that something I use all throughout the day, does the same thing. Phones can transport us to places all around the world in more ways than one. We can purchase plane tickets off of them to physically take us to a different place or we can dive into a reality completely different than ours through videos, pictures, social media, etc. Whether they physically transport us or not, phones are an escape and can take us to different parts of the world in an instant; our own magic doors.

Do Magic and Migration Mix?

In high school, I have never read a book that involves magic and fantasy. Usually students are asked to read the great novels or non-fiction stories. There has been no book that I have read that is anything like Exit West.

I really enjoyed reading the story because it combined a little bit of magic with the real world. Honestly, at first it shocked me that such an intense topic like emigration and immigration was being mixed with magic. Combining such a serious topic and adding magical doors felt controversial to me. However as I kept reading I thought that the author is not like any other writer. Adding the doors just adds more to the story and makes it not like any other migration story. The doors make for more sub-stories and a new world which makes Exit West a powerful read.

If you think mixing magic and migration, please comment why, I would love to hear other opinions!

Exit West and the Strains of Migration

Exit West provides and interesting perspective on the migrant experience, giving the reader a unique insight into how migration can affect relationships and mental states. Like many migrants, Saeed and Nadia attempted to migrate in hopes of finding a better life for themselves, but the effects of migration show immediately through their relationship. The abuse they face at every turn from so-called natives is straining and eventually leads to the dismantlement of their relationship. In their native country, it was clear that Saeed and Nadia were fond of each other, but as they migrated from country to country, they avoided each other more and more. While it is possible that they never truly loved each other and they only dated due to their dire situation in their home country, I choose to believe that they were once in love. Throughout this novel, Hamid illustrates just how impossible the migration experience can be through Saeed and Nadia. Maintaining a relationship in a new world, especially one with so much instability, is extremely difficult. What Saeed and Nadia had was strong and passionate, but to be in such close proximity with someone through almost constant turmoil is a recipe for disaster.

Did Nadia And Saeed Ever Love Each Other?

In the story Exit West by Mohsin Hamid shows that in the extreme and deadly city Nadia and Saeed seem to fall in love based on normal reasons for example behavior and looks. As the war increases and spreads further into the city causing deaths you see a change in the relationship between the young couple. The relationship becomes more forced like when Saeed’s mother passes away and no one speaks much it began to set a principle for dislocated conversations and communication. When Nadia promised Saeed’s dad to stay with him she made this promise until they made it to a new piece of land through the doors Saeed meets a prests daughter that he began to like and the same went for Nadia; this shows that even though a war and through a promise neither off the two characters actually felt true love but a need to want to be together only to reach a place for them to be able to find their way and be able to leave each other in separate worlds as they were before they meet .

Islam in “Exist West”

I was raised in a Muslim family my whole life and Islam dictates in a lot of ways how I see the world. However, when reading Mohsin Hamid’s novel Exit West, I feel like my Islamic world and the characters’ views of Islam are completely different. One example is the meaning of prayer in the novel, which strangely does not seem to mention God or worship in any way, shape, or form but is “a gesture of love for what had gone and would go and could be loved in no other way” (202). However, in real-life Islam and for most people, prayer is a way to glorify God and to reach some form of inner peace, and it is not optional in the way the novel makes it seem. Praying the five daily prayers is a requirement and one of the fundamental pillars of one’s faith, but this is not a reason to complain. Many people including myself and Saeed “value the discipline of it, the fact that it [is] a code, a promise [we have] made, and that [we] stood by” (202). Prayer is a truly mysterious thing and the experiences formed within it can be miraculous but can also be plain, depending on point of view.

On the other hand, some parts of the novel are ‘Godless’ and contrast heavily with the topic of spirituality. You would think that someone who seems to be so into their faith would abstain from smoking a joint whenever they want without feeling a sense of regret, but in this novel it happens. I believe Hamid wants to showcase religion as something that is more important at some times than at others, a sort of artificial, abstract idea that we refer to as a last resort, similar to what Albert Camus is getting at in his novel The Stranger. Personally, I believe that religion can be much more than that but in the strange world Nadia and Saeed are in, with its doors and long sentences, this is somewhat true.

Exit West Vs. Monster’s Inc.

While reading Exit West, I could not get over how oddly similar the idea of the magical doorways was to the Disney movie, Monster’s Inc. In Exit West, the immigrants are seen as these so called “others” who come through these doors and reek havoc and bring chaos. In the movie Monster’s Inc, the Monster’s are seen as scary entities on the other sides of the doors. In both cases, the predispositions about both the immigrants and the monsters are false. In both cases assumptions are made beforehand, and are not backed by evidence. Saeed and Nadia are very similar to Mike and Sully. Saeed and Nadia are misunderstood by the people who want them out of the mansion. Mike and Sully on the other hand both want to fit in in a world that does not like monsters, while at the same time balancing an impending energy crisis. The magical doors appear in both stories. They are meant to be doors to a new world and new experiences in both stories. With that said, All characters still have a connection to their sides of the doors. Nadia and Saeed both miss their country, and Mike and Sully want to find a solution in the human world to bring back to their side.

A Guide to Avoiding Reality by Saeed and Nadia

Saeed and Nadia escape through many different portals that lead them to various spots in the world. This is to escape danger and the violence that is occurring in their hometown. However, this is not the only time they try to distract themselves from life. We watch Saeed and Nadia become lost in their phones in order to access “an invisible world.” Whereas Saeed uses his phone to escape his life in a controlled manner, Nadia has no problem using the internet to the fullest extent as a way of distracting herself from her otherwise dreary everyday life in a war-torn city.  Another way of leaving the real world temporarily is through recreational drugs. Nadia consistently suggests that she and Saeed roll joints together and smoke marijuana and Saeed taking hallucinogen-inducing mushrooms in Nadia’s apartment. These risky decisions are frankly desperate tries to escape reality and avoid the dangers that they would otherwise face. I understand why they feel they have to resort to these habits but it does not change the fact that they are despairing acts.

What’s the Point of the Vignettes?

Throughout Saeed and Nadia’s story, seemingly unrelated vignettes interrupt the storyline, just for the plot to be picked up again within a few pages. It was not until a few chapters in that I realized that each vignette portrayed a different experience with the magical doors that Saeed and Nadia would eventually travel through. Still, I could not quite comprehend why Hamid felt the need to diverge from the storyline so frequently. Perhaps it is because each vignette not only provides a different perspective of the migrant experience but also helps further the plot by serving as a parallel to Saeed and Nadia’s story.

The vignettes paint migration as not just a means of escaping war and peril but as an opportunity to find the ideal life for oneself. A man in England contemplates suicide before discovering a door to Namibia and creating a new life for himself there. Regardless of how geographically desirable a location may seem, suffering can always find a way to manifest itself. Hamid depicts migration as a tool to break free from both physical and mental suffering and suggests that we are not as bound to our locations of origin as we may believe we are. In another vignette, an old man from Brazil finds love in Amsterdam and brings his Dutch love interest back to Rio de Janeiro for a visit. The nomadic lifestyle that these doors provide is what allowed the two men to discover their love for each other.

Nadia and Saeed could have had a stable life in England, but they both felt incomplete and were inclined to relocate once again to Marin, California. Through the vignettes and Saeed and Nadia’s journey, Hamid communicates that the reason for migrating can be as grave as fleeing for one’s life and can be as simple as craving new experiences.

What it Means to be Native in Exit West

Something that Exit West has made me realize about myself is the way that I think of being a native. We’ve all heard before that no one is really a native anywhere, especially the United States. I’m very aware of this, however, when Hamid mentions that in Marin, there were “almost no natives, theses people having died out or been exterminated long ago” (197), I was shocked. I found myself thinking of the predominantly white European Americans “native” to California. If I had been thinking of the genocide of the actual Native Americans from the beginning of the passage, I would probably not have reacted in this way as my perspective is different from that of Saeed, Nadia, or the narrator.

Whether intentional or not, it reminded me of the way the narrator often sets things up one way, allowing the mind of the reader to run with what he’s implied, and then takes it back. The most notable example of this is perhaps the dark skinned man who comes out of the closet, only wishing to safely escape the room of the white woman. The passage about the natives effectively had a comparable effect on me as when his eyes rolled “terribly, or perhaps not so terribly”(9), the refugees were “stunned, maybe, or resting. Possibly dying” (26), and Nadia’s coworkers were either “looting” or receiving “payment-in-hardware” (70).

Hamid has many great passages in Exit West about what it means to be a native in a changing world, but this was one that could easily have gone unnoticed by a more conscious reader than I.

Exit West and Carnival Row

Throughout reading this book, I found myself constantly comparing it to a TV show that I watched recently called Carnival Row. Carnival Row is an eight episode Amazon Prime show set in an expansive fantasy world based off of the Victorian Era of England.

In this world, the Fae, or Faeries, come to the Burge as refugees when their home kingdoms become war torn by the ongoing international conflict. The Burge is the land of the humans, but not all of the humans are willing to accept the Fae into their society. Many murders and crimes are plaguing the Burge and the newly migrated Fae are the first to get the finger pointed at them.

While the cast of this show is quite large, the plot of Carnival Row mainly revolves around two central characters and their journeys throughout the episodes. The characters are Vignette, a fierce-willed warrior Fae who has come to the Burge for refuge, and Philo, an open hearted and curious investigator of the Burge.

The journey of Vignette and Philo in Carnival Row reminded me of the journey of Saeed and Nadia because they are both trying to navigate their relationship in a society where some separation and prejudice occurs regarding migrants. In addition to this, Vignette’s story parallels that of Saeed and Nadia because she, too, came from a place that she watched succumb to war right in front of her eyes.

Migration in Exit West

“Exit West” is a novel by Moshin Hamid, it is a story about migration and refugees, focused on a young couple fleeing a brutal civil war. Exit West shows that everyone is migrating and it doesn’t have to be geographically. Exit West teaches us that moving through time and age is a migration of itself.

One passage that stood out to me while reading Exit West, was when Hamid showed a new point of view. The point of view was now of a old women that is lonely because she doesn’t leave her house and only is visited by her granddaughter. The old women states, ” We are all migrants though time.”(209) This sentence caught my eye because I believe everyone can relate to it. Everything around us is changing and no one has control over it.

Foreign People Who Are Not Foreign to Each Other

“In this group, everyone was foreign, and so, in a sense, no one was” (106). After Saeed and Nadia travel through the door and arrive in Mykonos, they realize that there are not many people from their country. However there are a lot of migrants. This line spoke to me because it describes part of the migrant experience. Saeed and Nadia have to quickly learn how to adapt in order to survive. There are many people in the human refugee camp with the intent to survive and eventually get out of it.

This is something that all of the migrants are able to share, they carry the same experiences. The migrants are connected through many different aspects but the most prominent one is that they are all from different countries. They are still foreign to the natives of Greece but within the migrant community they are not out of place from each other because they are all experiencing the same thing and are all from different places. They are brought together since they are all so different and come from different backgrounds.

All of them posses these qualities and are able to use it as something that unites them instead of separates them. I think this line effectively shows the migrant community which is an important aspect in the book. Hamid demonstrates the migrant life and it is different than what I expected. I thought that migrants would be living very independent and individual lives and although this can sometimes be the case, there is a community full of people who possess similar experiences. I thought that this was very interesting and made me reconsider how I think of migrants. They live a very difficult life that is constantly fluctuating and full of worry. Migrants do not have it easy but there are other people with similar situations which should be seen as a positive thing.

Nadia and Saeed may be some of the only people they encounter from their country during their migrant journey. Everyone in this camp is foreign so they are not foreign to each other.