The idea of a ban on travel to America is heartbreaking, says Mohsin Hamid

The idea of a ban on travel to America is heartbreaking, says Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid appeared on Seth Myers' late night show to talk about his latest book Exit West
15 Mar, 2017

Novelist Mohsin Hamid made it to Late Night with Seth Myers.

The writer made an appearance to promote his latest book Exit West, a story about a refugee couple's attempted journey to safety. Hamid explains what makes this story different is how the couple is portrayed before they are forced to move to another country.

"People who move are just like us, it's the part where they move that's different. But before that and after that, they're people like us."

With a topic like this and Hamid's Pakistani background, the conversation quickly shifted to the travel ban on Muslims US president Donald Trump wants to implement.

"It's based on a hysterical level of fear," says Hamid.

"What's happened now is we've been made so frightened of people and the travel ban is an example of that. Let's just take a whole bunch of people and treat them as though they are all this horrible frightening thing. And the process to throws away our commitment to equality and decency."

Hamid explains how many Pakistani's feel about the racism that is on the rise with Trump's presidency.

"For people like me, it's a sort of heartbreak. I've lived 17 years in the US. The idea of not being able to come is really heartbreaking."

The Reluctant Fundamentalist author believes this highlights the importance of storytelling in this time.

"Storytelling is really important. The reason why we have storytelling is because we don't want to be bound by what was and what is. We have to imagine what could be. And right now there's this nostalgic political force where we're looking back. 'Make America great again.'"

"We have to imagine new futures and I think what story tellers could do is begin to imagine new ways of being and new places we can all go to," he says.


Alba Mar 15, 2017 05:50pm
Then it must be Donald Trump whop has the hysterical level of fear. He was however effected by the destruxtion of the WTC, being a New York City real estate mogul. Trump banned travel.. No one told him too.
olive Mar 15, 2017 07:39pm
brilliant writer. looking forward to his new book.
lost cause Mar 15, 2017 08:03pm
First agree it is their country. Why you could not make Pakistan like US for past 17 years. Then you would have had no regret.
ZaFar Mar 15, 2017 08:23pm
If he is such a great man, why has he left pakistan.
tariq Mar 15, 2017 09:04pm
@ZaFar ; what does that have anything to do with. The world is a small place today. Diversity is the key to success. Open up your mind. Pakistan is a third world country with corruption to the core and vip culture prevalent all over.Wake up man!
LAHORI KID Mar 15, 2017 10:44pm
@ZaFar Being great has nothing to do with where you live, He is still a Pakistani, he still loves his country, you cannot take that away from anyone, even after 100 years. Like they say, you can take the man out of the country but you cannot take the country out of the man.
LAHORI KID Mar 15, 2017 10:50pm
@lost cause, America is everyone's country, built by Immigrants, so there is no " their country" And no one man can change almost 190 million people. His regrets are the thinking behind the ban and making every Muslim look like a bad person, first understand the issue and than make a educated comment. Be a proud Pakistani, support these writers who fight for us with words.
Farhan Siddiqi Mar 15, 2017 11:49pm
@ZaFar I think the question you need to ask is that; why i(yourself) could not leave but he could? then you may not have the need to ask this question.
Kamal Mar 16, 2017 01:58am
@ZaFar I would put it differently. People move of their own accord. That's their right. However, then I firmly believe, the Immigrants should become American Muslims rather than Muslim Americans. The two are not the same and the latter belief creates problems. Religion is a very personal thing in the US. Keep it within your home. Outside be an American.
P Setra Mar 16, 2017 02:28am
@Alba Exactly! He played on peoples fear and WON. Although he claims to be a businessman to the core, he played politics. He played dirty politics. His treatment of media and women have been hallmark of his administration.
Fazal Karim Mar 16, 2017 02:52am
What about India which has practically banned travel from Pakistan and vice versa. Worst victims are members of divided families.This is clear violation of human rights Why world is not taking notice of this like temporary travel ban by US.
Adil Jadoon Mar 16, 2017 05:56am
@lost cause Their country??? Most people in the US do not agree with Mr Trump. If people in Pakistan can vote of PML or PPP why can't the Americans vote for Donald Trump?
Adil Jadoon Mar 16, 2017 05:57am
@ZaFar uh...he might be a great man (since he still lives inPakistan) and if he does leave Pakistan it will be because like you..
123 Mar 16, 2017 06:35am
Equally heartbreakinq is the forced repatriation of Afghans. The telling difference is the people and courts combined to block the ban -- twice. Apart from a few dissenting liberals in Pakistan, what are our people doing? Their silence is deafening.
Hassan (Karachi) Mar 16, 2017 10:33am
@ZaFar He hasn't left, his family is still in Pakistan, he travels back and forth.
khan Mar 16, 2017 10:51am
We are all humans first then holders of different passports. Let humanity trump all the fears. There is no such thing as "they" and "us". Both "they" and "us" are humankind. No savages. All humans.
kh Mar 16, 2017 10:55am
@ZaFar he didn't leave Pakistan ,He left the corrupt government .
khan Mar 16, 2017 11:05am
@ Zafar i think you don't understand English. He used to live in US for 17 years now he lives in Pakistan. He said that very clearly
Tom Billesley Mar 16, 2017 05:06pm
@Alba When he was campaigning for election he said what he would do. He was elected. Now President Trump is doing what he said he would do. Perhaps you are too used to politicians telling lies.
Tom Billesley Mar 16, 2017 05:11pm
@LAHORI KID President Trump made the executive orders because some countries either couldn't or wouldn't cooperate with US authorities in the security vetting of travelers. When Iraq improved its level of cooperation it was removed from the list.
Tom Billesley Mar 16, 2017 05:13pm
@khan "Let humanity trump all the fears." - "trump"- ha, ha.
ALI Mar 16, 2017 07:25pm
@ZaFar Listen to the interview again, he lives in Pakistan my good man
Pete Mar 17, 2017 03:58am
@ZaFar He does live in Pakistan. He is travelling to promote his new book.