"Tarrying with Grief" in Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Kelsie Donnelly

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Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist responds tentatively to the question Judith Butler posed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks: ‘is there something to be gained from grieving, from tarrying with grief?’ (Butler 2004: xii). Drawing on recent theorisations of precarity by Butler and Isabell Lorey, this paper argues that in this novel Hamid proposes an ethico-political theory of grief that refuses to conform to existing modes of post-9/11 mourning. This model does not stoke nationalist fervour, or reiterate exceptional circumstances of trauma, but instead advocates a continuous engagement with loss and its resources for political action. The novel suggests that tarrying with grief and its exposure of the permeability of psychic borders can produce new subjectivities and political movements. At the moment of writing in 2019, when borders between nations, populations and peoples are subject to increasing scrutiny, The Reluctant Fundamentalist’s exploration of grief is both prescient and relevant to contemporary times.
Original languageEnglish
JournalC21 Literature: Journal of 21st-century Writings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019


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