Despite the fact I happened to be wearing bright pink socks last Friday and I quite like the colour in small doses, I'm not sure how I like it on book jackets, so that may have been enough to deter me from even picking up The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.
Fortunate then that the Booker judges have no such ridiculous prejudices and saw fit to long list this one.
Something strange is happening with this whole Booker Prize thing this year.
Usually I'm wading in already with those "Here we go...load of old rubbish" posts, "Here's the one I've hated, place your bets, it's bound to win" and the Booker longlist is the only time I do that, turkeys don't make it on here as a rule.
So this year I'm four previous reads and three new reads in, that makes seven total, more than half and I've enjoyed them all.
These are normal books that people will really enjoy reading.
That can't be right?
That's not what the Booker has been about.
No worries,six books to go, there's still plenty of time for that classic Booker moment.
Last year The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud, this year The Reluctant Fundamentalist for the archetypal post 9/11 novel slot, because I assume this is now a genre of its own.
Changez excels as a foreign student from Pakistan at an Ivy League university and heads into big business in New York as a company valuer. As 9/11 happens and attitudes harden towards all Muslims it is his own life and heritage that he is forced to put a value on as he makes his choices about where he truly belongs.
Narrated in the first person by Changez (that name surely of significance?) who is speaking throughout to an anonymous American.His first person narrative cleverly speaking for the American too who is carefully silenced throughout; all his thoughts, words and responses mediated through and qualified by Changez.
The Western voice is effectively silenced as the Islamic voice is allowed to speak, interpret and often arrive at conclusions based on preconceived assumptions.
How big a lesson is that to all of us?
At one point Changez grows a beard and is immediately eyed with suspicion.Mohsin Hamid constantly makes the point, we all initially judge by what we see.
Questions of narrative reliability constantly creeping into my mind as I read and then suddenly confirmed by Changez himself
"I cannot now recall many of the details of the events I have been relating to you. But surely it is the gist that matters; I am, after all, telling you a history, and in history, as I suspect you - an American - will agree, it is the thrust of one's narrative that counts, not the accuracy of one's own details"
A good read and a longlister worthy of inclusion.