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Scrutinized!Surveillance in Asian North American Literature$
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Monica Chiu

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838423

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838423.001.0001

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Double Surveillance in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Double Surveillance in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

(p.112) Chapter 6 Double Surveillance in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Monica Chiu

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines self-reflexive scrutiny in Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a novel about America's post-9/11 surveillance of those who look Arab or Middle Eastern and those who practice Islam. In The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Pakistani-born protagonist Changez constantly assuages the fears of an unnamed American guest dining with him in Lahore. Changez's dramatic monologue does not apologize for his increasingly militant stance made evident to his double audience: the unnamed American with whom he dines and the reader. This chapter focuses on Changez's visual self-reference (“Do not be frightened by my beard”) that first illuminates and then questions the efficacy of racial profiling. It explains how the reader identifies with Changez early on and acknowledges the racism of fearful Americans after 9/11, but increasingly becomes suspicious of his words and potential actions. It also considers how The Reluctant Fundamentalist enacts specular reversal, a narrative maneuver that animates the potential revisionist possibilities of surveillance and contributes to the novel's disturbing theme.

Keywords:   surveillance, Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, racial profiling, racism, 9/11, specular reversal

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