“Exit West” Book Review

Beginning in 2015, the world witnessed an unprecedented refugee crisis. Hundreds of thousands of children, women and men fleeing conflict in Syria and other war-ravaged nations in the Middle East made their way toward Europe. The reception that they received was rather cold and inhuman. When he wrote Exit West, Mohsin Hamid must have sought to highlight the plight of these refugees. In the novel, he calls on the globe to rise up and alleviate the suffering that refugees continue to endure today. 

The plot of Exit West closely mirrors the real experiences of refugees who are languishing in filthy, overcrowded and dangerous camps. The novel is centered on the lives of two young individuals, Nadia and Saeed. By placing these two characters at the core of the novel, it is clear that Hamid aimed to show that the youth are among the groups that bear the brunt of war and violent conflict. In addition to losing their families and livelihoods, they are left with the burden of rebuilding their communities and nations.

While the hardships that refugees endure are the key theme in Exit West, this novel by Mohsin Hamid also shows that being forced from their homes is not the only issue that defines refugees. Hamid suggests that refugees have complete and full lives. For instance, they fall in love and marry. They have visions and fears. The book can play a crucial role in reshaping public attitudes regarding refugees. Readers are able to understand that refugees are more than mere objects to be pitied. 

As part of an apparent campaign to redefine the image of refugees, Hamid uses Exit West to highlight the relentless and boldness that refugees demonstrate. For example, he describes how even in the height of deadly conflict, individuals in war-torn countries still attend classes. This is indeed remarkable. The dedication that they display indicates that their dreams are far greater than the grim situation that they face. These refugees can inspire those grappling with challenges. These individuals should understand that adversity and hardship makes them formidable.

American readers of Exit West are likely to be embarrassed after engaging with this book. Hamid outlines the troubles that refugees face as they flee war. They are rejected by the communities that host them. For instance, Saeed and Nadia faced hostility from the locals. Syrian refugees can indeed relate to the anguish that Saeed and Nadia experienced. Such nations as the US shut its doors to refugees who were in desperate need of rescue. The nation’s response was indeed embarrassing, shameful and unacceptable.

Whereas Exit West suggests that humans can be cruel and brutal, it also notes that the human capacity for compassion is limitless. For example, Hamid introduces a Greek girl who treats Nadia and Saeed with warmth, humanity and compassion. Such is the response that the US should have given to the refugees who sought its help. The Greek girl represents nations like Germany and Canada which opened their doors and went extreme lengths to help thousands of refugees to reclaim their dignity and rebuild their lives.

Being a refugee in a strange land is a brutal fate that many try to avoid. Hamid indicates that before resorting to being refugees, individuals fleeing war and hardship attempt other solutions. For instance, Saeed and Nadia approach various portals that promise to offer them escape from the certain death that they face in their own countries. They could not have imagined that they would be reduced to refugees. The world needs to understand that offered the chance, many refugees would opt for a different life. 

American readers are not the only ones who will be forced to reflect on how the world has responded to the refugee crisis. Other readers will also sympathize with refugees and find that their own countries have not done enough to reduce human suffering. For instance, Hamid notes that Nadia and Saeed lived in a squalid camp where food was scarce and electricity supply unreliable. These are the conditions in which refugees live today. The conditions are the result of a global failure. Nations need to join forces in support of refugees and other displaced peoples.

In addition to highlighting the plight of society’s most deprived and marginalized, Hamid’s Exit West novel also presents solutions that the globe can adopt to address the refugee success. Through the characters of Nadia and Saeed, Hamid indicates that economic empowerment holds the key to supporting refugees. Nadia and Saeed worked tirelessly by tilling land. Similarly, other refugees can be offered opportunities to earn a living. These opportunities will allow them to reclaim their dignity and improve their situation.

The analysis of Exit West is only complete when it tackles the question of the political underpinnings of the refugee crisis. Hamid appears to state that the refugee crisis is the direct result of the devastation caused by militant groups operating in the Arab world. This is indeed true. In such countries as Syria, terrorist organizations have forced millions to abandon their homes. If the world is to make significant progress in its effort to support refugees, it must restore peace in their home countries. 

In closing, it is nearly impossible to find another text that is as informative as Exit West. This novel offers readers an in-depth look into the realities of being a refugee. Readers understand that refugees the threat of death in their home countries. When they move to other nations, their troubles follow them. To ease the suffering of refugees, communities around the world need to be more sympathetic and compassionate. They should heed Hamid’s call for greater humanity and kindness. 


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