Sufi Stargazing and Relationality: Constellating Refugees in Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West

Maral Aguilera-Moradipour


Although Mohsin Hamid has noted the influence of Sufi cosmology on his writing, the analytic potential of this influence on his celebrated novel, Exit West (2017), remains unexamined. I contend that the novel is shaped by a constellational consciousness rooted in a Sufi conception of the principle of relationality and animated by the complexity of refugee positionalities. This article explores relationality through analysis of Exit West’s depiction of Sufi-inflected tropes of light and dark, the alignment of human activity with stars, and the potential limits of this alignment. By contrasting moments when human activity obstructs or nurtures relationships between terrestrial and celestial entities, I trace the potential and the challenges of constellational storytelling to envision solidarity and futurity for the world’s marginalized. I argue that the novel’s subtle evocation of Sufism orients refugee narratives towards relational ends, beyond the constraints of neoliberalism and the nation-state.


relationality; Sufi; constellation; Exit West; Mohsin Hamid; refugee; Indigeneity; solidarity

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