Every word has its own significance in fiction, says novelist Mohsin Hamid


The hall of Faletti’s Hotel was jam packed with the audience which included both Pakistani and foreigner dignitaries as one of the most celebrated novelists of this era Mohsin Hamid was speaking at one of the sessions of the 5th edition of Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) on Saturday.

Hamid—who has already written three novels and his fourth one is all set to hit the markets next month—shared the hidden stories of his life with the participants because readers have a curiosity to know about the inner stories of their favourite writers. Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia are three novels which made Hamid an iconic figure in world literature while his fourth novel Exit West is ready to hit the markets all over the world. Besides his four novels, Hamid has also written a book of essays titled Discontent and Its Civilisations.

“You have to be well-travelled if you really want to become a good fiction writer,” said the acclaimed writer, who was born in Lahore in 1971 and spent half of his life in London, New York and California. My lifelong physical experience of travelling time to time helped me a lot in writing my novels, he added. The session became even more enthralling due to the candid way of questioning by Dwight Garner, a literary critic of the New York Times, who was moderating the discussion.

“Some people call me ‘Reluctant Novelist’ as I took seven years to write my first novel the Moth Smoke that was published in 2000,” Hamid said on a lighter note, whose another novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist became the Guardian’s book of the decade in 2009. When asked about his daily routine of writing, he said that five to six words per day are enough for him.

According to Hamid, he used to work on his first novel during midnight, but now he writes in the morning when his children go to school. “Every word has its own significance in fiction, and I usually note down immediately any expression or word that comes to my mind,” he added. Hamid revealed that he first decided to give the title of ‘All migrants through time’ to his latest novel but dropped the idea and went for Exit West instead.

Speaking on the occasion, Hamid said that children’s books played an important role in making him a writer, as he loved to read the fairy tales during his childhood. “I read fiction fervently whenever I write fiction,” said Hamid, urging the upcoming writers to spend their time reading.