In a subway car, my skin would typically fall in the middle of the color spectrum. On street corners, tourists would ask me for directions. I was, in four and a half years, never an American; I was immediately a New Yorker.— Mohsin Hamid
The most unforgettable Mohsin Hamid quotes to get the best of your day
It seems an obvious thing to say, but you should not imagine that we Pakistanis are all potential terrorists, just as we should not imagine that you Americans are all undercover assassins.
I think sometimes feeling that you've been marginalized opens you up to the realization that, in their own lives, almost everyone experiences marginalization, a kind of foreigner sense.
Time only moves in one direction. Remember that. Things always change.
I think massive migration is inevitable.
As sea levels rise, as climate change happens, as fertile fields become arid, as wars are fought, people are going to move. They always have.
When the uncertain future becomes the past, the past in turn becomes uncertain.
All human stories are migration stories because everyone is a refugee from their own childhood.
Yes, Manila had its slums; one saw them on the drive from the airport: vast districts of men in dirty white undershirts lounging idly in front of auto-repair shops - like a poorer version of the 1950s America depicted in such films as Grease.
There's a reason prophets perform miracles; language lacks the power to describe faith.
The ruins proclaim the building was beautiful.
All over the world, the nativist perspective is being privileged over those who are more recent arrivals.
I commit her to memory. When I'm alone, I feel a strange yearning, the hunger of a man fasting not because he believes but because he's ashamed. Not the cleansing hunger of the devout, but the feverish hunger of the hypocrite. I let her go every evening only because there's nothing I can do to stop her.
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.
If an American teenager were to come to Lahore, they'd have wildly different experiences depending on whom they met. They could party and get drunk and smoke hashish with some, while others would say, "Let's get some religious instruction."
Which is stronger, politics or love? is like asking, Which is stronger, exhaling or inhaling? They are two sides of the same thing.
Farmers and people who make a living from the land are finding it impossible to survive. So the first step is to get out of that place. Come to the city where there are opportunities.
Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.
India to someone who lives in Lahore is like Queens to someone who lives in Lower Manhattan - it's not far away, and yet it doesn't exist.
Some of my relatives held on to imagined memories the way homeless people hold onto lottery tickets. Nostalgia was their crack cocaine, if you will, and my childhood was littered with the consequences of their addiction : unserviceable debts, squabbles over inheritances, the odd alcoholic or suicide.
When people, particularly young people and especially young men, can't imagine themselves as heroes in narratives that they construct for themselves, they look to be heroes in some other way. So young men in America of, let's say, Muslim background, only a tiny, tiny minority - so small as to be almost zero - are likely to ever commit terrorist acts.
It is remarkable indeed how we human beings are capable of delighting in the mating call of a flower while we are surrounded by the charred carcasses of our fellow animals.
I responded to the gravity of an invisible moon at my core, and I undertook journeys I had not expected to take.
You know, you get a bad review as a writer, you remember it for 10 years.
You get a hundred good reviews, you forget them all. You say hello to a hundred people in the city and it doesn't mean anything to you. One racist comment passes by, and it sticks with you a decade.
I think wars, climate change, all that stuff is going to move people.
And so I wanted to say, "What if the migration apocalypse occurs and it isn't an apocalypse at all?" Maybe we will still find ways to be happy and for our children and grandchildren to thrive and the world to move on.
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.
You're never rude,' she said, smiling, 'and I think it's good to be touchy sometimes. It means you care.
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.
My aunt used to say, "It's between me and my god;
it's got nothing to do with you." It was a good enough answer for me as a snot-nosed college kid angling for a religious debate, and I still think it's a good way of putting it.
So in many ways, the bombing at the end of this year and the terrorist attack of last year in Peshawar have bookended both those years in a very unfortunate way. But at a bigger picture since, the impression in Pakistan is that things are actually improving on the terrorism front quite dramatically.
I don't want to be anxious on my day-to-day life.
I want to try to imagine a future I'd like to live in and then write books and do things that, in my own small way, make it more likely that that future will come to exist.
The mountain trembled like an earthquake.
Dust flew into the sky. And the rock turned dark red, like the color of blood'. 'How would you know?' Asks Sindhi cap. 'You only have a black and white television'. 'But it's a very good one. You can almost see colours.
There really still is a deep wound, you know, in the collective psyche of Pakistan. And the violence has left enormous human and emotional and psychic damage. That's not going to go away. But that said, I think I'm cautiously optimistic that we're looking at a better future.
When the machine of a human being is turned on, it seems to produce a protagonist, just as a television produces an image.
Walking is a meditative act. It's so rare that we allow ourselves just to be.
What used to help us to cope with transience was stuff like, extended families all living in one place, or very strong religious beliefs, or a tribe that would outlive you. That stuff is getting weaker.
We can open up our computers and Skype with someone, and we see them.
It's like looking through a window. And we can surf the internet through our phones, and it's like our consciousness is far away. Or we can step through a airplane door and be in another continent a few hours away. So technology feels, to me, like the doors sort of already exist, at least emotionally.
I think writing is a very political act.
I think that any writer who says it's not, is simply a writer who is disavowing the political connotations of what they write.
It is the effect of scarcity; one’s rules of propriety make one thirst for the improper.
I would have bet money that Britain would not vote to leave the EU, and I would have been wrong. I would have bet money that Trump would not have been the Republican nominee, and I would have been wrong and I certainly would have bet money that he wouldn't win the election.
The anger is useful too because when things about the world upset you, that is really a fertile feeling to channel into fiction and to put out into books.
When we aren't collectively imagining hopeful futures, then the way things are going almost invariably seems negative and frightening.
I think we should be prepared, given environmental and political change for large-scale migration. If sea levels rise and 200 million people in Bangladesh and 300 million people in Indonesia need to move, and the entire Chinese seaboard, New York City - that's going to be huge.
The ban on the burkini, which is basically a wetsuit, seems particularly ridiculous.
Living in a place like Pakistan, very often you meet people who are migrating abroad. And sometimes you'll ask their parents, you know - you didn't try to stop them? Like, why didn't you say, don't go - I'll miss you? Stay with me. And, you know, people say, well, it's best for them. They have to go. And parents, you know, take on that sadness because they know it's better for their children if they leave.
We think of the romance novel as a lesser form of literature, but I don't think that's true. Love is a very important aspect of human life and worth exploring.
When people talk about the death of the novel, they are speaking of the need for the birth of something different.
When I travel, I feel more like a nomad than a tourist.
We need to start imagining the future or it will get imagined for us, and the ways that it has been imagined thus far don't seem very attractive.
I did not grow up in poverty. But I did grow up with a poor boy's sense of longing, in my case not for what my family had never had, but for what we had had and lost.