Exit West offers an opportunity to understand the refugee experience on a powerful level through the eyes of two university students.
Hamid, in brief poetic prose, shows us just how quickly a country can be thrown into a wartime scenario and a people forced to displace themselves as refugees.
In a nameless place, that seems a lot like Syria, Nadia, an independent woman at university in a strict society, forms a relationship with Saeed, a gentle religious soul, as their city begins to crumble under militant rule. As their homeland situation becomes more dire, rumors spread of secret doors becoming portals into other countries. In a desperate attempt for survival, the couple steps through and into unknown territory.
The reader bears witness to what a global refugee crisis might look like and how the world may move forward. It's a brief book with a lot to say in very few words. At times beautiful and often unsettling, it is a story that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page. I suggest this book to lovers of magical realism, though this is magical realism-lite, and anyone interested in what it feels like to be an other, an immigrant, or a refugee.