Best-selling author Mohsin Hamid spoke at Penn State Altoona on Tuesday as part of their Distinguished Speaker Series. His most recent novel, “Exit West,” was selected as Penn State Altoona’s Common Read for this year.
“Exit West” tells the story of two refugees, Nadia and Saeed, who flee a nameless country on the brink of civil war. During his keynote address, Hamid talked about the connection he sees between migrating and growing old. He tried to focus on this commonality in the novel, rather than on the ways refugees are different.
“I think that the experience of migration is basically what it is to be a human being, that we cannot remain still,” Hamid said. “Time moves even if geography stays. And what’s important about that is if we are all migrants, it means that we can have more compassion for each other.”
Israel Tucker, a sophomore at Penn State Altoona, read the book for her English class. She took this idea of shared humanity away from “Exit West.”
“I think it really confirmed for me that refugees are people too. Just reading about them being on their cell phones in class and getting crushes across the room. They’re all just people too.”