Words matter. These are the best Mohsin Hamid Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
I don’t want to be a propagandist or say that Pakistan is just great. There are problems, but it is a much more complex place than we are given to believe.
Islam is not a race, yet Islamophobia partakes of racist characteristics.
As a child I read all kinds of stuff, whether it was ‘Asterix and Obelix’ and ‘Tin Tin’ comic books, or ‘Lord of the Rings,’ or Frank Herbert’s sci-fi. Or ‘The Wind in the Willows.’ Or ‘Charlotte’s Web.’
There is a huge sense of loneliness as people leave villages and move to cities. It’s hard to find that human connection as you move away from where you started.
My earliest memories are of watching ‘Star Trek’ and ‘MASH’ while my parents barbecued chicken in the back yard. I was an American kid, through and through.
When the machine of a human being is turned on, it seems to produce a protagonist, just as a television produces an image.
I am a strong believer in the intertwined nature of the personal and the political; I think they move together.
I don’t want to be a Michael Moore-style artist, which is not to disparage Michael Moore. But he seems rather unsuccessful at winning people over who don’t already agree with him.
There’s a real, brutal nature to the capitalism practiced by the main character in ‘How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.’ And I think playing dirty is certainly part of that.
Like many of my friends in the Pakistani diaspora – and many of my friends in Pakistan itself, for that matter – I have sometimes looked at the country of my birth and wondered whether its future will be one of steady and sad decline.
Sufi poetry is, in a sense, self-help poetry about how to live a decent life, how to deal with your mortality.
I’m not sure if guys are supposed to read Vanity Fair. I feel very metrosexual with it but am not sure it’s in my comfort zone.
‘Which is stronger, politics or love?’ is like asking, ‘Which is stronger, exhaling or inhaling?’ They are two sides of the same thing.
If you sit back and simply allow your country to be, it is highly unlikely to be the kind of country you want. You have to be active.
If it takes you seven years to write each novel, you need a patron. And I would rather have my corporate self as my patron than any arts council or bestower of grants.
I believe one can gauge a book’s impact only after about 10 years.
I’d rather create a miniature painting than a Taj Mahal of a book.
Chance plays a powerful role in every life – our brains and personalities are just chemical soup, after all; a few drops here or there matter enormously – but consequences often become more serious as income levels go down.
I’m not a representative of Pakistan; I’m just an example that Pakistanis are different from each other. I believe it in my fiction and I believe it personally.
I’ve realized that it’s important to stop trying to think I’m any one thing. People are confused as to their identity and try to cling to one aspect of that identity to describe what they are: American, Republican, Muslim. These are really incomplete.
Literature helps us transcend ourselves.
Part of the reason people abroad resent the United States is something Americans can do very little about: envy. The richest, most powerful country in the world attracts the jealousy of others in much the same way that the richest, most powerful man in a small town attracts the jealousy of others.
I think if you say that art and politics, or religion and politics, mustn’t mix, don’t mix, that is itself a political statement. Even if you are writing a 19th-century novel where the money comes from a plantation in the Caribbean and you don’t talk about that, that itself is a political thing.
Islamophobia, in all its guises, seeks to minimise the importance of the individual and maximise the importance of the group. Yet our instinctive stance ought to be one of suspicion towards such endeavours. For individuals are undeniably real. Groups, on the other hand, are assertions of opinion.
I am sometimes asked to name my favourite books. The list changes, depending on my mood, the year, tricks played by memory. I might mention novels by Nabokov and Calvino and Tolkien on one occasion, by Fitzgerald and Baldwin and E.B. White on another. Camus often features, as do Tolstoy, Borges, Morrison and Manto.
For me, writing a novel is like solving a puzzle. But I don’t intend my novels as puzzles. I intend them as invitations to dance.
We are each of us composed of atoms, but equally, we are composed by time.
Being outside the candy store looking in is the state of people today. Whether you’re in a Pakistani village watching somebody in a car drive by, or you’re in the city of Lahore going to a restaurant and seeing somebody with a security entourage coming in… you’re exposed to people with more.
When the forces are aligning against hybridity, it harms everyone, as we are all migrants. Growing up in Pakistan, I know just how oppressive that kind of puritanical mindset can be.
Lived religion is a very different thing from strict textual analysis. Very few people of any faith live their lives as literalist interpretations of scripture.
Most Muslims do not ‘choose’ Islam in the way that they choose to become doctors or lawyers, nor even in the way that they choose to become fans of Coldplay or Radiohead. Most Muslims, like people of any faith, are born into their religion.
I think there’s a natural link between the fact that our self is a story that we make up and that we’re drawn to stories. It resonates, in a way.
Those of us who thought Jorge Luis Borges was a pioneer of magical realism were mistaken; he was a pioneer of science fiction.
Maybe we are all prospective migrants. The lines of national borders on maps are artificial constructs, as unnatural to us as they are to birds flying overhead. Our first impulse is to ignore them.
I am not much of a researcher as a novelist; I write mainly from experience.
I studied about the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War and about how the Constitution was written by men, many of whom were slave owners. So I suppose the travel ban strikes me as coming from an era I thought we’d left behind, but I guess we haven’t entirely left it behind.
Growing up in Pakistan in the 1980s, I lived in the shadow of a tyrannical state.
How many big businesses don’t resort to underhand means?
My grandparents used to pray five times a day, but they were quiet about their own thing. Completely liberal day by day; my grandmother was a social worker and my grandfather was an engineer, but they never talked about religion. My entire life I couldn’t remember one conversation I had with them about religion.
I think the most effective forms of critique are ones that establish a common ground for people to occupy, and then appeal to the best nature of people on that common ground.
Stories helped me unite parts of my existence that might otherwise have seemed irrevocably split by geography and time. And stories helped me find a future in which I, such a mongrel, could be comfortable.
I think there’s a growing courage among the younger generation of American writers. Because of the more superficial treatment of characters taking place in cinema, they have had to deal with that by digging deeper into who these people are.
It’s not that, living in Pakistan, I feel an enormous constraint on how I can write and what I can say; rather, I recognize that one has to navigate these things… Am I aware of things that one could say that would be risky or that could be dangerous? Certainly I’m aware of those things.
When I travel, I feel more like a nomad than a tourist.
I like the idea of an open, international London that thrives on attracting hard-working, talented people but has the confidence to tell them they must play by the same rules as everyone else.
Novels are make-believe and play for adults.
Violent cities, people who live in violent cities, find a way – as New Yorkers did 30 or 40 years ago – they find a way to just carry on. But you’re stressed out. You’re worried, you know.
Nothing good gets written without the writer suffering along the way, in my opinion. Writing should be a pleasure, but unless you feel almost broken many, many times in the journey to a novel, you haven’t pushed yourself hard enough.
I don’t listen to music when I write. I need silence so I can hear the sound of the words.
Basically, asking me what kind of music I like is like asking what kind of food I like: ‘Anything that tastes good,’ is the answer. I’m the kind of guy who spends three times as much on his speakers as he does on his television.
Pakistan hasn’t been cast in the role of… interesting cultural place or, you know, land of great comedians.
I often use nameless places in my work as a way of allowing the readers to create more of the novel and to make it potentially about their experiences, what they know, a city that they have perhaps seen on television.
We recognise that, with time, every human being will cease being, will only have been. And so we seek to resist time. We rebel against it. We are drawn like lovers to the unreachable past, to imagined memories, to nostalgia.
In a sense, by closing off the idea that young Muslims, and particularly young Muslim men, can be American heroes, it increases the chance that they’ll try to be some other kind of hero. And that, I think, is entirely counterproductive.