Exit West

Exit West

A Novel

Large Print - 2017 | Large print edition.
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"In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet-- sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors-- doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. [This book] follows the couple as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are."--Regular print book.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2017.
Edition: Large print edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781410499486
1410499480
9781432847654
1432847651
Characteristics: 263 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
large print.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Exit West, which was one of our Top 10 selections, is this year's pick for the One Book, One Chicago program. Head over to chipublib.org/oboc for more information including book discussions and a variety programs.

Chicago Public Library recommends this title as one of the top ten books of 2017.

Chicago Public Library recommends this title as one of the best books published in 2017.

Hamid is a dynamic young writer, and his latest work is a penetrating and timely exile novel. Saeed and Nadia, a couple beginning a budding romance, live in an unnamed city that is quickly becoming more dangerous and precarious as it descends into civil war. As their day-to-day existence becomes ... Read More »


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bibliosara May 04, 2021

Saeed and Nadia fall in love in the shadow of civil war in an unnamed time and unknown Middle Eastern country. This young couple finds hope and a new life through the doors of mysterious portals to other parts of the globe. But there is bitterness in opportunity, and the world falls into crisis at the emergence of these portals. Exit West tells one couple's tale as it intersects with many people and cultures.

As a librarian, I find myself torn in my opinion of this book. I can see its potential, with Hamid's lyrical, almost allegorical writing style and the insights into human character. However, the choppiness of the writing, not quite a series of vignettes but rather loosely held together chapters with sections jumping in time and space, has me disliking the book as a whole. Many of the short vignette style stories inserted at random are seemingly unrelated to the plot as a whole. The ending left me feeling far from satisfied, and I felt generally confused and (for the first) half just plain irritated by the book. In the end, I feel that it is the right book for some, that it has value in its insight to the migrant experience, but that it is simply not my style of book to enjoy. I am interested to see what my book club thinks of this title.

k
kashif5985
Mar 25, 2021

I will caveat this review with the fact that this is the first fiction novel i have read in almost 10 years.

The first half of the book was very captivating, a love story between two very different people in the midst of a civil war. The author captured the emotions, the ups, the downs very beautifully as their love story developed. Then came the concept of Magic doors that could transport them instantaneously to different places around the world offering them an escape from the dangers of the war. I was not expecting the concept of magic doors, so it caught me by surprise (think Monsters Inc). After migrating through the magic doors the second half of the book detailed their struggles as migrants. I found this half of the book was really rushed, and as a result I wasn't able to connect with the characters as much. I was not able to feel their emotions and live their struggles. There was a strong message in there about the issues of migration/refugees but due to the lack of character development in the second half I don't believe we really felt that message come through. (As opposed to the first half where I really felt the devastation of war through the characters).

Also the author would introduce little snippets of completely random characters in different places and time throughput the book. I found these jumps very confusing and am not sure what they added to the story.

a
alexqise
Oct 27, 2020

Saeed and Nadia live in a deteriorating city where danger flourishes and their lives could be gone any second. Despite this, they still both go to school and form a relationship together even with their contrasting personalities. However, things take a turn for the worse when the militants start fighting the government in their city, and Saeed’s mother is killed in the crossfire. They receive a tip that there are magical doors that lead to different parts of the world and go through one to escape the city. I liked this book because on the surface, it may just seem like it’s about a relationship that doesn’t work, but the author, Hamid, also explores many other concepts such as religion, immigration, and harassment.

c
cdarin11
Sep 22, 2020

From the description I thought this would be a good chance to escape the present and be entertained. This book is completely immersed in the present and painful and hopeful at the same time.

t
TeaFloyd
Sep 18, 2020

I find the writing style a bit hard to get used to but when I did the story flowed like water. Even though we don't get all the personal details of Nadia's and Saeed's relationship told in an emotional way, I still understand why they felt the way they did throughout their relationship. It's amazing how Hamid is able to write in such a way!

w
wcbind421
Sep 14, 2020

I expected something with more meat on its bones from a Booker Prize finalist and a N.Y. Times "10 best books". Yes, it's gorgeously written with fine cadences and long run-on sentences; it explores the plight of refugees and the nuts-and-bolts of how they scrape by but, in the end, what's it really about? Saeed and Nadia, 2 lovers, leave home and family and escape to the West in a series of hops from the un-named homeland (Beirut? Damascus? Baghdad? Kabul?) first to Mykonos, then London and finally California's coast. They lost their families, their culture and ultimately each other but what did either of them achieve? Mohsin doesn't tell us.

i
islandteacher27
Aug 13, 2020

Just an excellent book.

a
alecbussott
Aug 10, 2020

A neat concept that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

r
ryner
Jun 25, 2020

In a quasi-parallel reality, Nadia and Saeed are a young couple whose middle-eastern country is experiencing a civil war as militants take over their city. In this world, citizens who are lucky or well-connected can arrange for transport out of a region through mysterious doorways, which the couple opt to do, though where they will end up is uncertain.

If not for the unearthly doorways, Nadia and Saeed's experiences could be the actuality of any number of refugees fleeing similar or equally oppressive circumstances in the world today. It's hard to imagine the daily uncertainty of safety, food, shelter and sheer existence, but this book, though fiction, does an excellent job demonstrating the desperation, heartbreak and guilt felt by those fleeing their homes.

p
peacebenow
Mar 11, 2020

Nadia and Saeed leave their country due to a breakdown of the Government and take over by militants. They make passage through doorways made a valuable to them and started their lives over bit by bit through trial and error. They faced unspeakable hardships, loss of family, hunger, danger, disease, over crowding, hopelessness.... Eventually they pieced together a new life and found their ways. Very relevant with the breakdown of Governments around the world present day and an increasing resistance to immigrants.

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alexqise
Oct 27, 2020

alexqise thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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