Discontent and its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London
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From the bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, “a near-perfect essay collection, filled with insight, compassion, and intellect." (NPR)
In both his internationally bestselling fiction and his wide-ranging journalism, Mohsin Hamid has earned a reputation as a "master critic of the modern global condition" (Foreign Policy). A "water lily" who has called three countries on three continents his home (Pakistan, the birthplace to which he returned as a young father; the United States, where he spent his childhood and young adulthood; and Britain, where he married and became a citizen), he has achieved a truly
panoramic perspective on the clash of forces - political, economic, religious, cultural - that have transfigured the face of contemporary life and shaken the old certainties about how to navigate it.
In Discontent and Its Civilizations, Hamid traces the fracture lines generated by a decade and a half of seismic change, from the "war on terror" to the struggles of individuals to maintain humanity in the rigid face of ideology, or the indifferent face of globalization. Whether he is discussing courtship rituals or pop culture, drones or the rhythms of daily life in an extended family compound, he transports us beyond the alarmist headlines of an anxious West and a volatile East and helps to bring a dazzling diverse world within emotional and intellectual reach.
I’d moved back to Lahore after several years in London and before that several more in New York. The week I arrived a pair of bombs went off in Moon Market, killing 42 people and injuring 135. For a few days people avoided markets and banks and restaurants and other crowded places if they could. Then things more or less went back to normal. There were 8 million people in Lahore before the bombing. There were 8 million people in Lahore after the bombing. I held off on going for a haircut. Maybe
violence that would accompany the partition was beginning to simmer. My great-grandfather was attacked because he was mistaken for a Hindu. This was not surprising; as a lawyer, most of his colleagues were Hindus, as were many of his friends. He would shelter some of their families in his home during the murderous riots that were to come. But my great-grandfather was a Muslim. More than that, he was a member of the Muslim League, which had campaigned for the creation of Pakistan. From the
to Pakistan). The United States Government Accountability Office reports that only 12 percent of the $1.5 billion in economic assistance to Pakistan authorized for 2010 was actually disbursed that year. Independent calculations by the Center for Global Development suggest that $2.2 billion of civilian aid budgeted for Pakistan is currently undisbursed, meaning that total economic assistance actually received from the US over the past nine years is in the vicinity of $4.3 billion, or $480 million
cooperation prove insufficient. The alliance between the US and the Pakistani military remains, therefore, a relationship between parties viewing one another through gunsights. Each side blames the other for putting its citizens in grave danger, and each is correct to do so. — A GUNSIGHT IS NOT, however, the primary lens through which King’s College professor and former London Times journalist Anatol Lieven sees Pakistan. Quite the opposite: his Pakistan: A Hard Country, by far the most
conversation, she proclaimed to the table: “I’d never marry a Muslim man.” “It’s a little soon for us to be discussing marriage,” I joked. But I was annoyed. (Perhaps even disappointed, it occurs to me now, since I still recall the incident almost two decades later.) In the cosmopolitan bit of pre-9/11 America where I then lived, local norms of politeness meant that I’d never before heard such a remark, however widely held the woman’s sentiments might have been. Islamophobia, in all its guises,