When I finished Exit West by Mohsin Hamid I cried. Not because I was particularly sad, but because of how devastatingly beautiful this story is. There is so much depth in the deceptively straightforward prose, so many images nestled in the words: phrases that build a world in front of your eyes.
Nadia and Saeed meet in their country of birth, and as the country, and their city, becomes swallowed into a conflict, they manage to escape to different countries through the apparition of doors that come and go. No one knows exactly where these doors take you, but they are the passage to another life on the other side. Nadia and Saeed are in love, possibly, but will their love survive starting over in a different country? Will it survive time and change? I really don’t want to add any more content to my summary as it needs to be read and there is no way I can do justice to the beauty of this book in a review.
As an immigrant who has lived in several different countries, this story hit home, hard at times. The background of conflict, displacement, immigration, racism, and migration in general is something I think we can all relate to, whatever age we are, and I personally feel that Hamid does a wonderful job understanding and evoking the complexities of leaving one home for another, whether out of choice or not.
As a writer this is the type of novel you aspire to write, but are even happier to read. It’s timeless, beautiful, heartbreaking, and a must read.