Slightly Different Ways to Read Exit West’s Title, Exit West

While Exit West‘s nebulous title has been touched on during class, I want to catalog a few interpretations I can think of.

Exit west, like a highway

It’s the most familiar language and is what people I’ve asked commonly guess the title means. It certainly sounds like a highway sign, using every word efficiently. This interpretation also supports Saeed and Nadia’s traveled based story by being an abbreviate highway sign. My initial choice.

Exit West, referencing perspectives

This title tells the reader to abandon western expectation for the story. It follows Exit West‘s habit of subverting western stereotypes about the middle east. Although it isn’t fair to say these stereotypes are directed towards the middle eastern due to Saeed and Nadia’s hometown never receiving a name. Which is also another way Hamid removes readers from their preconceived notions and biases. Anyways this title reflects the books empathy generating content. Also thanks to whoever first said this one from 1st period.

Exit West, like manifest destiny

Another one created by the wonderful students of period 1. An inversion of western expansion in the USA’s history with Saeed and Nadia’s destiny interfering with american’s destiny. I enjoy this one almost entirely due to illogical logical extent of this title. Particularly the idea of Nadia and Saeed invading the United States. Of course a more reasonable explanation would be an exaggerated description of migrants gravitating towards better lives, which maybe be in America, but that’s not nearly as fun.

Hamid’s Style of Writing and How, Really, It’s Much Different Than What We’re Accustomed to, and That Adds to the Story As a Whole, Specifically, His Use of Overly Long Sentences to Stress a Point and Keep Us Engaged.

I loved Exit West. I think the way Hamid writes adds another layer of engagement to this story because he keeps us tethered to his characters and their thoughts. Had he ended his narration with short, choppy sentences, it wouldn’t have felt as free flowing. It’s almost a type of third person stream of consciousness, which is unlike anything I’ve read before.

In terms of keeping the reader engaged, the tiny voice in our heads that reads is out of breath by the time it stumbles upon a period. We have to keep reading because the sentence hasn’t finished yet. Even when that sentence is a page long, we naturally want to finish it because the thought it incomplete.

Many times, we confuse simplicity with quality. The simpler something is, the better and more profound it can be. One of Hamid’s sentences struck me hard:

Saeed was grateful for Nadia’s presence, for the way in which she altered the silences that descended on the apartment, not necessarily filling them with words, but making them less bleak in their muteness

(82).

That sentence is one of his shorter examples, yet it is still just as profound. He manages to clarify himself before the reader has time to object in “not necessarily” as if he is speaking this to us and can see our face change as if to speak and he corrects himself before we can get a word in.

I could go on forever about Hamid’s style but I’ll wrap it up here before I end up writing a page long sentence.