In this one of the most critically acclaimed 9/11 novels the author describes the story of a young man who would be considered as the example of American dream in the making who nevertheless through several indirect and direct factors caused by uncontrollable events in and around his life abandons the successful yet unfulfilling life for a path that is seen by many as the way of extremism.
The story starts as Changes the main character of the novel who by this time has returned to his home country,
Changez’ family is one of old aristocrats of the
On one occasion during a vacation in
Although throughout the novel Changez shares his story, the stranger in turn does not talk about himself at all. Through Changez’ observations the reader learns about the American as reserved, mistrustful of his environment, arrogant and attentive listener.
Changez meets Jim, an executive at Underwood Samson, who comes to like him, because of his hunger and tenacity. Jim grew up in the 70s during which great American industrial decline have caused his dad to lose his job and through which Jim learns to identify opportunities and thrive during difficult periods. Jim has an exceptional ability to judge people and he sees in Changez what made him successful.
Upon arriving in NYC Changez immediately feels at home. Sprawling urban districts, Pakistani cab drivers and Punjabi eateries combined with the wide spectrum of ethnicities have made it easier for Changez to effortlessly blend in with the city. He finds himself to be a natural New Yorker although he never felt to be an American. In fact throughout the novel Changez finds himself to dislike America, dislike how she rose to the top within last two centuries while ancient civilizations were hopelessly left behind, dislike how her policies affect the very well being of his own family back in Pakistan, and how her people seamlessly live on without regard for the reverberations she imposes on people of far away.
When Changez sees the destruction of the World Trade Centers in NYC by terrorists he smiles unconsciously. He was remarkably pleased! He wasn’t gratified with the suffering of the innocents, nor was he compelled with terrorists’ schemes but he was pleased at the symbolism of it all - how someone brought down
After 9/11 Changez takes a short trip home in
Changez asserts to the American that according to post 9/11 political and military leaders of
During a project in
Relationship between Erica and Changez grows during his time in NYC and they come to be deeply attracted to each other. Erica is attracted to Changez, because of his extremely polite and respectful bearing. However, Erica, whose long time friend and boyfriend died of cancer, has never recovered from her loss and is somewhat detached from the reality. Such predisposition for emotional breakdown exasperated by the events of the 9/11 causes Erica to fall back into her loneliness where she finds time with her deceased boyfriend. Erica eventually convinces Changez that she is of someone and that it will be better for him to move on with life without her. Changez, who in his desperation attempted not once to change the fate of his love only to see the problem getting bad to worse, finally decides to leave her and everything that he had in America behind.