Exit West

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Exit West
Exit West.png
AuthorMohsin Hamid
Audio read byMohsin Hamid
CountryUnited States
PublisherRiverhead Books
Publication date
February 27, 2017[1]
AwardsLos Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction

Exit West is a 2017 novel by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid. It is Hamid's fourth novel. The main themes of the novel are emigration and refugee problems.[2]

The novel is about a young couple, Saeed and Nadia, who live in an unnamed city undergoing civil war and finally have to flee, using a system of magical doors, which lead to different locations around the globe.[3]

The book was named by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2017.[4] It was also shortlisted for 2019 International IMPAC Dublin Award.


Nadia and Saeed meet when they are working students in an unnamed city. Saeed is more conservative and still lives at home, as custom generally requires, but the more independent Nadia has chosen to live alone and has been disowned by her parents for doing so. As war breaks out and militants begin attacking the city, the two fall in love. After Saeed's mother is killed by a stray bullet while searching for a lost earring in her car, Nadia moves in with Saeed and his father, despite not wanting to marry Saeed as propriety requires.

As the militants successfully wrest control of the city from the government and violence becomes an every day part of life, Nadia and Saeed begin chasing rumours that there are doors in the city that serve as portals to other locations. Although most of the doors are guarded by militants, they manage to bribe their way through a door, leaving behind Saeed's father who does not wish to be a burden to them and asks Nadia to promise him never to leave Saeed until they are settled.

The door they go through takes them to Mykonos, where they are among many refugees and settle in a tent city. They eventually obtain the compassion of a local Greek girl who has a rapport with Nadia and helps the two go through a recently discovered door which leads to a luxury home in London. Nadia and Saeed and other migrants settle in the home, claiming it from its owners.

As more migrants penetrate London, hostility between the migrants and the native-born increases, including attacks and mob rule. The migrants are eventually sectioned off in a ghetto with minimal food and electricity called "Dark London". After a raid to clear out migrants goes wrong, the natives decide to try to work together with the new migrants and put them to work clearing the land for Halo London, a city surrounding London-proper, with the promise that they will be given 40 meters and a pipe i.e. a small plot of land and access to utilities. Nadia and Saeed throw themselves into the work as they feel themselves growing apart from each other.

Although the couple are on a list that puts them among the first to obtain a secure home, Nadia asks Saeed to leave through another portal and they eventually take their chance arriving in Marin County, California. They find they are generally welcome there and Nadia finds work at a food co-op while Saeed becomes more and more religious. Eventually, realizing that they no longer have any feelings for one another, Nadia leaves Saeed and moves into a room at the co-op, forming a relationship with a cook who works there. Saeed, meanwhile, marries the native-born daughter of a preacher.

Fifty years later, Nadia returns to the country of her birth and meets up with Saeed, who offers to one day take her to see the stars in Chile.


Omar El Akkad in The Globe and Mail calls the novel "a masterpiece of humanity and restraint".[5] Sarah Begley of Time magazine praised its relation to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis and making a love story of refugees nevertheless feel universal.[6] She also selected it as one of Time's top ten novels of 2017.[7] The Guardian defined it as a "magical vision of the refugee crisis". [8] The book was also selected for the 2017 Booker Prize longlist among twelve others, and on 13 September 2017 was announced as one of the six-strong shortlist.[9][10]

In December 2017, former U.S. President Barack Obama included Exit West in his list of best books he read in 2017.[11][12]


In August 2017 it was announced that the Russo brothers had purchased the rights to Exit West with the intention of producing the novel into a movie with Morten Tyldum to direct.[13]


  1. ^ https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/549017/exit-west-by-mohsin-hamid/9780735212206/
  2. ^ Sandhu, Sukhdev (12 March 2017). "Exit West by Mohsin Hamid – magical vision of the refugee crisis". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  3. ^ Gilbert, Sophie (8 March 2017). "Exit West and the Edge of Dystopia". The Atlantic. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  4. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2017". New York Times. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  5. ^ El Akkad, Omar (17 March 2017). "MHamid's Exit West, reviewed: A masterpiece of humility and restraint". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  6. ^ Begley, Sarah (20 March 2017). "Love in the Time of Refugees". Time: 56.
  7. ^ Begley, Sarah (21 November 2017). "The Top 10 Novels of 2017". Time. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  8. ^ Sandhu, Sukhdev (12 March 2017). "Exit West by Mohsin Hamid – magical vision of the refugee crisis". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  9. ^ "2017 Man Booker Prize Fiction longlist". themanbookerprize.com. Booker Prize foundation. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Man Booker Prize 2017: shortlist makes room for debuts alongside big names". The Guardian. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  11. ^ Savransky, Rebecca (December 31, 2017). "Obama puts out list of favorite books he read, songs he listened to in 2017". The Hill.
  12. ^ Obama, Barack (December 31, 2017). "During my presidency, I started a tradition of sharing my reading lists and playlists..."
  13. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike. "Russo Brothers In First Look With Morten Tyldum, Acquire 'Exit West' For Him To Direct". Retrieved 11 August 2017.