Migrants on the Page

October 1, 2018  • Institute Staff

Mohsin Hamid describes himself as a mongrel. Originally from Pakistan, Hamid spent the first 38 years of his life moving back and forth between the United States and his home country, the United Kingdom. He takes the growing backlash against migrants very personally. His latest novel wrestles with this sentiment. Exit West is the story of Saeed and Nadia, two young people who leave their country as it descends into the horrors of a civil war. As they move around the world in search of a new home, they face discrimination and hardship. In some lands, they are labeled illegal immigrants. In others, they are seen as terrorists. Hamid forces readers to question the nature of a world with 50 million displaced people. Instead of focusing explicitly on migration, however, he tells the story through the experiences of human beings. His ability to illuminate this contemporary issue is why he was chosen as the first recipient of the Aspen Words Literary Prize. In June, Hamid joined Institute CEO Dan Porterfield for a conversation about literature and world politics, at an event that also included dramatic readings from the novel by Theatre Aspen’s Iris Beaumier.