New Release: How to get filthy rich in rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
Almost five years since his last offering, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid is back with How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, a self-help book explaining in twelve easy steps, the path to success. The protagonist is a young man and his rise and demise in rising Asia is documented through these steps. He could be you or me, indeed this novel is everyone’s story about survival, in the village, in the city, in business, in love and in life.
Hamid’s writing is entirely in second person, a device that is reminiscent of the narrator, Changez, in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Through this no-name Everyman, Hamid casts a camera’s eye in the small and the large, from the “meaty gully with the slender trickle of water” to “the era of cities, bound by its airport and fibre-optic cables to every great metropolis.” The protagonist starts a bottling water business, built upon a foundation of fraud and lies, much like every other business and building in the metropolis. Despite his success, the Everyman yearns for the pretty girl he met when he was a teenager and even though he marries another woman, has a son from her and eventually divorces her, he follows the pretty girl’s career from modeling, to cooking show host to the owner of a furniture boutique.
Just like the book is structured in twelve steps but tries to make sense of the chaos of story-telling and the relationship between the writer and the reader; Hamid’s writing is structured in complex sentences and paragraph-length run-ons. This structured chaos is appealing but could have used tighter editing as the narrative suffers from clunky long sentences that have to be read twice to understand them.
The book is self-aware about its status as a book and tells the reader that this “self-help” book might just provide the answers. It mocks itself as a book and yet is sensitive about its characters and the reader’s emotion. At one point it feels like neither fact nor fiction, but simply as if the book and the reader are in conversation. For that momentary illusion, just like the lives in this book, Hamid deserves accolades.
Available: Liberty Books