Mohsin Hamid on the Rise of Nationalism

Mohsin Hamid on the Rise of Nationalism: ‘In the land of the pure, no one is pure enough.”

From Myanmar to Pakistan, the US and Britain, an obsession with purity is driving political, religious and moral agendas. But a retreat from complexity is no guarantee of future harmony

By Mohsin Hamid

Perhaps it is living half your life in Pakistan, for Pakistan is the land of the pure. Literally so: the land, stan, of the pure, pak. Perhaps that is why you have come to question the commonly held perception that purity is good and impurity is bad. For a tribe of humans newly arrived in a location never before inhabited by humans, such an outlook is perhaps sensible. Purity in a stream of water renders it fit to drink. Impurity in a piece of meat sickens those who eat it. Purity is hence to be valued and impurity to be avoided, resisted, expelled. And yet you believe the time has come to seek to reverse, at least partially, the emotional polarity of these two words, to extol impurity’s benefits and denounce purity’s harms. Read more at The Guardian.

Join Mohsin Hamid in conversation with Julie Robinson about his novel Exit West on April 2. Read more about the event here.