LAHORE: Renowned writer Mohsin Hamid launched his book ‘Exit West’ at the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) on Saturday. Speaking at the festival with Dwight Garner, the author talks about several things like his new book, how the title was chosen, his past, how he chose to become a writer and much more. Exit West is a book that discusses two youngsters, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle lover Saeed, their love affair and their journey as they are forced to leave their homeland. The book follows these characters in their journey towards a new place and a new culture; while they struggle to hold on to reality and their identity. Mohsin Hamid talked about his own journey in the session, telling the audience of the time when he came to Pakistanfrom London. He said that he had to answer several questions, asking why would he do such a thing and who would want to shift from London to Pakistan. He mentioned an occasion when the cable guy asked him why he shifted to Pakistan. The cable guy said that he would love to move out of the country if given the chance. Literary critic Dwight Garner asked Mohsin about his travels and if it is important for a writer to be ‘well-travelled’. To this, The Reluctant Fundamentalist writer replied, “Yes. To be a good fiction writer you need to travel around a lot. But that does not necessarily mean physically travel to places. Books take you places too. Places that might not even exist! And that is so much more important and has so much more meaning; that you’re sitting in your room but you’re in Narnia!” When Garner asked Mohsin regarding the difference in reactions and reviews of Pakistanis and foreigners, he said, “I don’t really think about it that much. I mean, people think differently. If I ask the audience right now about something they’ll all have different point of views.” “Though I used to read reviews,” he added, “In the beginning I used to read a lot of reviews and then I started reading less and less. Now, I don’t read reviews until it’s been a while since my book has come out.” The author also shed some light on Pakistani reviews; he said that mostly it is the newspapers that do the reviewing here in Pakistan; but people also come up to me at wedding or parties and tell me what they think of my books in like 30 seconds. “Very few people give a detailed analysis of the book in Pakistan. Though it is changing, Pakistanis have started to give deep reviews on websites,” he said. “Exit West is going to be launched in the United States (US) soon. How do you feel about that?” Garner asked. “Well, to be honest I’m scared! You know since the election of Trump there have been some absurd things, like the Muslim ban for example. So I’m afraid of being victim to this discrimination. The thought of giving your phone and unlocking it and having it checked worries me! Not that I have anything in it, but no one is comfortable doing that. What if they copy my data?” the illustrious writer said. Moth Smoke writer took a trip down memory lane and told everyone about his journey from law to writing. Mohsin worked in McKinsey & Company for several years. He paid his student loan and even got three months off each year to finish his book ‘Moth Smoke’. “How did you get away from your career?” Garner questioned. “It was just passion really. I never used to think of writing as a job, never thought I could make money off of it and I still don’t. But it was something I was passionate about and quite frankly, I found law to be very boring. But it taught me a lot of things, most importantly that words mean everything. Like a contract for example, if you’ve read and signed a contract, what is written on that piece of paper is now the law! So this is not that unrelated to fiction writing,” Mohsin replied. Speaking about the title of the book, Mohsin said that it was not the first title, it came very late. “My first title was ‘All migrants through time’, but my US publisher did not agree. I used to bug my wife all the time regarding the title and eventually ‘Exit West’ was chosen,” he added. Answering a question regarding superstitions and rituals, the novelist said that there are no rituals or superstitions but certain dangers that are in my mind. “I know if I open my browser before writing anything, it is certain that I will not get any writing done that day. But I do it anyway!” The esteemed writer ended by telling another fear of his, saying that he fears that people would read his book and be confused and say “I didn’t get that”. So he said that he concluded by saying that he tries to keep his books as simple and relatable as he can.