In “Exit West,” Mohsin Hamid tells a riveting story about two main characters, Saeed and Nadia, in a war torn city. While much of the novel focuses on Saeed and Nadia’s travels away from their home city, I think that the first part of the novel in the city is just as important as the immigration in the second part of the novel.
The first part of the novel focuses on the war torn city that Saeed and Nadia are living in and their day to day lives inside the city. It recounts Saeed and Nadia going about their lives normally: going to work everyday, going grocery shopping, and even partaking in some drugs. Basically until the last few weeks before they leave through a door, Saeed and Nadia go throughout their lives with very little change despite the war.
I think this narrative from inside a war torn city is important for Westerners to read and understand. So often we watch the news or read the newspaper, where all that is focused on in areas experiencing conflict is physical destruction and political turmoil. The news also focuses on people fleeing war torn cities. This novel takes away the element of hard journeys of migration by implementing the idea of doors, allowing the reader to focus on the narrative of Saeed and Nadia. And as Western readers, I think it is important for us to understand that what we hear in the news isn’t the whole perspective. “Exit West” is an excellent narrative to understand a little bit more of the narrative of people in war torn areas.