Review: Exit West – Mohsin Hamid

Exit West
Book cover: a tear in the middle of paper that looks like it could become a door

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that I did a two week work experience at Penguin Random House in March. I had had my eye on Exit West for quite some time, so I was quite lucky and grateful that I received a free copy.

Exit West is a magical realism story that follows two refugees, Nadia and Saeed, migrating to different countries through magical door portals. The refugees come from an unknown place somewhere in the Middle East. It is #ownvoices for representation of people in Western Asia (it’s never stated where this story actually takes place).

Nadia was the character who I liked the most. I thought her development was very interesting, especially the growth in her character and how she always stays herself, even before she becomes a refugee. She was lovely to read about.

I was very sad to hear about Saeed’s father’s decision and kept hoping that he would change his mind. Not saying anymore about that because I don’t want to spoil anything. 

This book is diverse due to the main characters and several minor characters being non-white, Muslim and refugees. One of the characters also starts a relationship with a member of the same gender. I can’t comment on whether the portrayal was respectful because I am not bisexual.

I loved the idea of the magical door portals. It was an interesting metaphor for refugees not always knowing what lies at the end of the journey and not always knowing if there will be an end to the journey. There are always new doors and there are always people wanting you to leave and exit through the door – even in real life. While the story does focus on Nadia and Saeed’s story, there were small glimpses into the experiences of other people and how the doors affected their lives – I enjoyed these tidbits a lot.

The writing is very descriptive and repetitive, which I think suits the overall feeling of the book. Mohsin Hamid uses grammar to convey ideas and feelings, and I liked the journey that I took while experiencing his writing. It isn’t the type of writing that everyone will like, but I think it is the most suitable and fitting style for the theme of the book.

I’d love to discuss this quote with you down in the comments as it was very moving for me: “We are all migrants through time.”

Exit West is a beautifully written story about refugees and their experiences. It will make you question what you think about the status of refugees in your country, and what it means to be one the newest immigrants to a country.

4 stars

Have you read Exit West? What are your thoughts on the quote: “We are all migrants through time.”

9 thoughts on “Review: Exit West – Mohsin Hamid

  1. Lovely review Sinead, I received a copy of this book as one of my Book of the Month selections & am really looking forward to reading it soon. I love Magical Realism & am curious to see it used in a story about immigration. Happy reading 🙂


  2. Great review! This book is high priority on my TBR so I’m hoping to read it soon (bonus points for having an MC with my name!) I also love that quote 💜


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