Exit West

Exit West

A Novel

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:



"A breathtaking novel...[that] arrives at an urgent time." --NPR

"It was as if Hamid knew what was going to happen to America and the world, and gave us a road map to our future... At once terrifying and ... oddly hopeful." --Ayelet Waldman, The New York Times Book Review

"Moving, audacious, and indelibly human." -- Entertainment Weekly , "A" rating

A New York Times bestseller, the astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands.

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet--sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors--doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2017.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780735212176
Branch Call Number: HAMID M
Characteristics: 231 pages ; 22 cm


Featured Blogs and Events

007: An Ordinary Life, a feminist post-apocalypse, and more!

What do you do with an ordinary life? You write about it -- beautifully, in the case of the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Find out more... Two Book Minimum: Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison Links: Amazon | Lawrence Public Library The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron Links: Amazon | Lawrence Public Library Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders Links: Amazon | Lawrence Publi... (more)

Books & Birthdays

Most years, I don't make much fuss about my birthday.  Not infrequently, I'll forget it's coming and only remember when thoughtful friends and family start asking me about presents. But not this year!  This year, I decided to treat myself to a birthday extravaganza.  And when I realized I'd have a blog post due around the time my birthday hits, I was full of ideas to tie the wondrous fact of… (more)

View All Staff Blog Posts »

From Library Staff

An astonishingly beautiful, deceptively simple work of ever-so-slightly magical realism. This is a book we need right now.

LPL_MeredithW May 14, 2017

When mysterious doors start opening that allow refugees to travel across the globe in a single step, the whole world gets remade - and Nadia and Saeed must renegotiate the boundaries of their lives beyond the unnamed, war-torn city where they fell in love. This book is astonishing in its beauty ... Read More »

LPL_DirectorBrad Dec 30, 2016

Mesmerizing. Unputdownable. Worthy of multiple reads. A tale of immigrants moving within a subtly odd sci-fi world where national boundaries are challenged by mysterious doors that allow secret passage anywhere in the world. What? Exactly. Thank you Zadie Smith for the recommendation on this one.... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
bibliosara May 04, 2021

Saeed and Nadia fall in love in the shadow of civil war in an unnamed time and unknown Middle Eastern country. This young couple finds hope and a new life through the doors of mysterious portals to other parts of the globe. But there is bitterness in opportunity, and the world falls into crisis at the emergence of these portals. Exit West tells one couple's tale as it intersects with many people and cultures.

As a librarian, I find myself torn in my opinion of this book. I can see its potential, with Hamid's lyrical, almost allegorical writing style and the insights into human character. However, the choppiness of the writing, not quite a series of vignettes but rather loosely held together chapters with sections jumping in time and space, has me disliking the book as a whole. Many of the short vignette style stories inserted at random are seemingly unrelated to the plot as a whole. The ending left me feeling far from satisfied, and I felt generally confused and (for the first) half just plain irritated by the book. In the end, I feel that it is the right book for some, that it has value in its insight to the migrant experience, but that it is simply not my style of book to enjoy. I am interested to see what my book club thinks of this title.

Mar 25, 2021

I will caveat this review with the fact that this is the first fiction novel i have read in almost 10 years.

The first half of the book was very captivating, a love story between two very different people in the midst of a civil war. The author captured the emotions, the ups, the downs very beautifully as their love story developed. Then came the concept of Magic doors that could transport them instantaneously to different places around the world offering them an escape from the dangers of the war. I was not expecting the concept of magic doors, so it caught me by surprise (think Monsters Inc). After migrating through the magic doors the second half of the book detailed their struggles as migrants. I found this half of the book was really rushed, and as a result I wasn't able to connect with the characters as much. I was not able to feel their emotions and live their struggles. There was a strong message in there about the issues of migration/refugees but due to the lack of character development in the second half I don't believe we really felt that message come through. (As opposed to the first half where I really felt the devastation of war through the characters).

Also the author would introduce little snippets of completely random characters in different places and time throughput the book. I found these jumps very confusing and am not sure what they added to the story.

Oct 27, 2020

Saeed and Nadia live in a deteriorating city where danger flourishes and their lives could be gone any second. Despite this, they still both go to school and form a relationship together even with their contrasting personalities. However, things take a turn for the worse when the militants start fighting the government in their city, and Saeed’s mother is killed in the crossfire. They receive a tip that there are magical doors that lead to different parts of the world and go through one to escape the city. I liked this book because on the surface, it may just seem like it’s about a relationship that doesn’t work, but the author, Hamid, also explores many other concepts such as religion, immigration, and harassment.

Sep 22, 2020

From the description I thought this would be a good chance to escape the present and be entertained. This book is completely immersed in the present and painful and hopeful at the same time.

Sep 18, 2020

I find the writing style a bit hard to get used to but when I did the story flowed like water. Even though we don't get all the personal details of Nadia's and Saeed's relationship told in an emotional way, I still understand why they felt the way they did throughout their relationship. It's amazing how Hamid is able to write in such a way!

Sep 14, 2020

I expected something with more meat on its bones from a Booker Prize finalist and a N.Y. Times "10 best books". Yes, it's gorgeously written with fine cadences and long run-on sentences; it explores the plight of refugees and the nuts-and-bolts of how they scrape by but, in the end, what's it really about? Saeed and Nadia, 2 lovers, leave home and family and escape to the West in a series of hops from the un-named homeland (Beirut? Damascus? Baghdad? Kabul?) first to Mykonos, then London and finally California's coast. They lost their families, their culture and ultimately each other but what did either of them achieve? Mohsin doesn't tell us.

Aug 13, 2020

Just an excellent book.

Aug 10, 2020

A neat concept that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Jun 25, 2020

In a quasi-parallel reality, Nadia and Saeed are a young couple whose middle-eastern country is experiencing a civil war as militants take over their city. In this world, citizens who are lucky or well-connected can arrange for transport out of a region through mysterious doorways, which the couple opt to do, though where they will end up is uncertain.

If not for the unearthly doorways, Nadia and Saeed's experiences could be the actuality of any number of refugees fleeing similar or equally oppressive circumstances in the world today. It's hard to imagine the daily uncertainty of safety, food, shelter and sheer existence, but this book, though fiction, does an excellent job demonstrating the desperation, heartbreak and guilt felt by those fleeing their homes.

Mar 11, 2020

Nadia and Saeed leave their country due to a breakdown of the Government and take over by militants. They make passage through doorways made a valuable to them and started their lives over bit by bit through trial and error. They faced unspeakable hardships, loss of family, hunger, danger, disease, over crowding, hopelessness.... Eventually they pieced together a new life and found their ways. Very relevant with the breakdown of Governments around the world present day and an increasing resistance to immigrants.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Oct 27, 2020

alexqise thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at LPL

To Top