In many ways, novelist Mohsin Hamid’s book, Exit West, is a universal story, not bound to time or place but rather to the story of humanity on earth.
With our facade of geographical boundaries, it can seem like our world is efficiently divided in such a way that everyone is born where they belong. But to suggest that humanity has ever been permanently sedentary is to reject our history. Hamid challenges the predominantly western perspective of migration. He exposes the privilege we all hold from remaining where we are. Yet, he intentionally creates a kind of portal of understanding, a sort of relatable take on the very real story of main character’s Saeed and Nadia.
Hamid incorporates a fantastical element to his story through the use of doors. Not regular doors, but doors that are a means of escape, a transportation system that simultaneously speeds the story of migration while also slowing down the significance of the journey. He uses this detour to focus on the undeniably human story of Saeed and Nadia. We have a lot to learn from Hamid. This book alters our notions of migration and questions the idea of the global other. We ought to consider that as a migratory species, spread farther across the globe than any other living being, we are stewards of the earth. Thus, it is our responsibility to let go of our geographical entitlement and treat the world as the shifting, immigrated, and emigrated planet it is.
I believe that we can all take away great values from this book. This is not just a story, but a lesson of empathy, faith, suffering, and movement. This is the human experience.