This is an outstanding, creatively imagined story which manages to give many of us non-Islamic folks a glimpse into what being Islamic in the U.S. must have been like after 9/11.The story takes place in Pakistan (Lahore) as Changez, once a successful immigrant in the U.S., relates his story to an unnamed American. From a privileged, but poor family, Changez manages to get into Princeton and graduate with honors. He lands a highly sought after and highly paid position with a New York "valuation" firm which tells companies what they are worth. He loves New York, falls in love with an American woman, and has more money than he ever anticipated.But after Sept. 11Changez not only finds himself being viewed differently, but begins to view himself differently as well. He suddenly decides to grow a beard which draws even more attention to himself and begins to question his role in the U.S. In the meantime, his relationship with the woman he loves changes for reasons not related to Sept. 11, but also makes him question some essential questions.While the unnamed and unheard American in the cafe could be a mere foil, Hamid manages to create an interesting character we know only through the eyes of Changez. The American's own visit to Pakistan is questionable and Changez works hard to assure the man of his safety. By the end of the novel you are surprised to find yourself in a page-turning, suspense-filled plot (and I'm not giving away any endings).Hamid's narrative is tight and well controlled. At times I questioned the strange romantic relationship, but at the end of the novel we see that it serves to show us another side of the U.S. and Changez's relationship to it. It also teaches about Changez as a person, although we can see how he may appear distant to others. His work at the "valuation" firm is a high stakes position in which his answers determine the fate of others. When this begins to bother him he is encouraged to separate himself from the results since anyone could produce them -- it is nothing personal and he does not make the decisions. But Changez recognizes his role in the process.It is this role which we build out upon as Changez begins to see the role he plays in other areas of his life. What he recognizes is that passivity is not an option. To use the existentialist formula, "not to choose is to choose." In other words, he moves from passivity to action which seems to surprise many, including himself. But is he really changing or simply becoming for himself? That is up to the reader to decide.Regardless of the answer, Hamid's book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand more of what is happening in the world today. There are no simple answers, but there is insight.