Mohsin Hamid

  • New York Times Bestselling Author of 'Exit West' & 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'

Mohsin Hamid is the author of four novels -- Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and Exit West -- and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations. His writing has been translated into forty languages, featured on bestseller lists, and adapted for the cinema. Born in Lahore, he has spent about half his life there and much of the rest in London, New York, and California.


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A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Mohsin Hamid
  • Columbia University
  • Lehigh University
  • NYU Abu Dhabi
  • Literary Arts, Inc.
  • Duke University
  • Brown University
  • The Westport Library
  • University of Minnesota
Keynote - Exit West | Politics and Prose [1:02:56] - Get Sharable Link
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Mohsin Hamid was born in 1971 in Lahore. He grew up mostly in Pakistan but spent part of his childhood in California and returned to America to attend Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He then worked in New York and London as a management consultant before returning to Lahore to pursue writing full-time.

He published his first novel, Moth Smoke, in 2000. Structured like a trial, with the reader cast as judge, it told the story of an ex-banker and heroin addict in contemporary Lahore. It became a cult hit, was adapted for television in Pakistan, and was hailed by the New York Review of Books as “one of the first pictures we have of that world,” a new South Asia “taken over by gun-running, drug-trafficking, large-scale industrialism, commercial entrepreneurship, tourism, new money, nightclubs, boutiques.”

His next novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was published in 2007 and recounted a Pakistani man's encounter with an unnamed stranger as he tells of his abandonment of his high-flying life in New York in a time of conflict and mutual suspicion. The Guardian named it one of the books that defined the decade and the BBC selected it as one of the 100 novels that have shaped our world. It became an international bestseller, and was adapted into a film by director Mira Nair, starring Riz Ahmed, Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson, and Kiefer Sutherland.

In 2013 he published his  third novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, which was a love story and an exploration of mass-urbanization and global economic transformation -- in the apparent guise of a self-help book. Reviewing it in The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani wrote: “Mr. Hamid reaffirms his place as one of his generation's most inventive and gifted writers.”

His fourth novel, Exit West, published in 2017, investigated the universality of migration through the story of two refugees fleeing a war-torn city in a world where billions of people have begun to travel through inexplicable black doors. It was an international bestseller described by The New Yorker as “instantly canonical.”

Mohsin’s essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, and many other publications. A book collection of his non-fiction writing, Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London was published in 2015.

His writing has been translated into 40 languages and won numerous prizes. He has lectured at dozens of universities around the world, from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale to the London School of Economics and the National University of Singapore. In 2013, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the world's 100 Leading Global Thinkers.