The Musings of a Boho Girl

bōˈhēmēən (noun) 1. a free spirit ; 2. a writer; 3. an explorer of the Avant-Garde.

Category: Reading

A Collection of Essays: Mohsin Hamid’s Discontent and Its Civilizations


“Ours is a nation of minorities: a patchwork of cultures, ethnicities, languages and sects.” Mohsin Hamid

Several years ago while living in London, I read The Reluctant Fundamentalist. This is important for two reasons: 1) I discovered the best flat white in the city (a Soho cafe on Berwick Street) and 2) Hamid’s powerful story. The distinct narrative. Changez, an eighteen-year old Pakistani comes to Princeton intent on seeking the American dream; he graduates, gets a job in the financial sector and then falls in love with Erica. I saw Erica as a symbol of America (or perhaps the American dream), flawed but beautiful; enticing but ultimately unattainable. It’s an intriguing story, the relationship between Changez and Erica is interesting. Life for Changez changes Post 9/11, as a Pakistani people see him differently — with suspicion. I loved reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist, it’s an amazing novel that was shortlisted for the Man Booker.

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Five Dials, How to be Both, and the other Gems of 2014

Judging from the news, it seems as though the world is in a complete free fall, but 2014 had its moments. So I am going to share everything I discovered this year.

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Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” — Truman Capote

For a few brief years we existed at the same time, we breathed the same air and we lived. I didn’t know who Truman Capote was nor did I feel the impact of his death in 1984; I was a toddler. Capote was a brilliant literary figure with limitless talents and he knew himself in a way that most people never would. I’m still in awe that we were on earth at the same time.

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On Reading Ali Smith

“I looked at the faces in torchlight and I saw they were escapees : they’d broken free from me and from the wall that had made and held them and even from themselves.”

– Ali Smith, How to be Both

When I read a book, I want the story to stay with me; maybe it’s selfish, but as a reader I have to feel that I’ve read something new. I never search for books to read, instead I wait for brilliant writers that I adore to publish a new book; and it’s well worth the wait. When I finished Ali Smith’s How to be Both, I realised the prose was still with me; this is always the case with her novels. Every sentence is beautiful, purposeful and clever.

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Reading Zadie Smith

“A good book is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility what human nature is of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.” — Susan Sontag

I did not know Willesden, not the Willesden that exists in Zadie Smith’s novel, White Teeth. Her North West London seemed far from my little corner in Hoxton. London as a whole still felt foreign to me, so I read White Teeth as an outsider, not really understanding the multicultural setting that Smith described. Silence followed, at least, in class discussions. Multiculturalism in London felt more authentic than the American version, which seemed forced in some ways. Racial tensions never seemed apparent in London or perhaps, I wasn’t looking for them. White Teeth was published five years before I moved to the UK. Time changes us so it wasn’t strange to think a country may have evolved. While my classmates were looking at their culture, I was examining a culture that I did not really know yet. Smith made the plot accessible and slowly I understood the London in her novel.

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Re-reading David Foster Wallace

I like it when somebody gets excited about something. – Holden, The Catcher in the Rye

When I was fifteen I borrowed Infinite Jest from my local library. I was attracted to mammoth sized books. The librarian suggested I borrow a Sweet Valley High book, it was the worst thing she could have said to a teenager. She questioned my maturity. Now I insisted on the David Foster Wallace book. The librarian held onto the book and my card; I could see her contemplating her next move. She studied my face; yes, I was the girl, who at eleven, insisted the head librarian order The Handmaid’s Tale. Although they forced my mother to check out the book for me, I won that battle. So she handed over Infinite Jest and I left the library.

For five months, there was nothing else. I read David Foster Wallace attentively even while exhausted. When it was over, I didn’t know what to feel, but I had acquired a deep appreciation for footnotes, without them it would have been impossible to understand the drugs described in his book. I knew what I read was special. Read the rest of this entry »