This article considers the role of the reader-as-judge in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It builds upon and extends the idea of the cathartic function of authorship as a response to trauma by alternatively considering the activation and empowerment of the reader that is enabled by the dramatic monologue style of Hamid’s novella. Indications that the reader is called upon to make active decisions can be found in the second-person address that is directed beyond the pages. The layering of different genres also means that readers have to choose what they believe to be the most suitable generic framework for understanding the novella. Marking a new intervention into the study of this novella, the article argues that The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an example of a contemporary dramatic monologue that encourages a more active way of reading by calling for readers’ discernment and judgement, while resisting comfortable closure. The article considers how and why the novella functions as a dramatic monologue, before moving on to those matters that the reader is being called upon to judge, and the wider implications of this readerly positioning in relation to the politics of mourning.