To Issue a Firefly’s Glow: Wormhole Geographies and Positionality in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist


Hamid’s novelistic project is a creative examination of the relationship between the micro movements of individuals and the macro processes of globalisation. The micro movements of individual human agents are related to their political being-in-the-world and their geographical location. Using Sheppard’s notion of ‘wormhole travel’, I examine how geographical location affects political agency. In particular, I employ the notion of ‘positionality’ to say something meaningful about the way location and connectivity of cities, global conglomerates and populations affect the ability to develop individual political agency in a globalised world. Hamid’s novel questions the popular notion that globalisation is an external factor, which affects everything from the way we conceive of planetary geography to national and global economies and social action as such. I argue that political agency in this novel involves an increase in ideologically-informed will to affect one’s life as a citizen, or, to use Hamid’s own metaphor, to an ability to create ‘a firefly’s glow bright enough to transcend the boundaries of continents and civilizations’.


author Adnan Mahmutović

Transnational Literature 11.1.

published 2018