From the internationally best-selling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the boldly imagined tale of a poor boy's quest for wealth and love.
His first two novels established Mohsin Hamid as a radically inventive storyteller with his finger on the world's pulse. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia meets that reputation - and exceeds it. The astonishing and riveting tale of a man's journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by ambitious youths all over "rising Asia". It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most fluid, and increasingly scarce, of goods: water. Yet his heart remains set on something else, on the pretty girl whose star rises along with his, their paths crossing and recrossing, a lifelong affair sparked and snuffed and sparked again by the forces that careen their fates along.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a striking slice of contemporary life at a time of crushing upheaval. Romantic without being sentimental, political without being didactic, and spiritual without being religious, it brings an unflinching gaze to the violence and hope it depicts. And it creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.
©2013 Mohsin Hamid (P)2013 Penguin Audiobooks
As its title suggests, this book works within the frame of a self help or "how to" book. Each chapter is headed with a rule (e.g., "Don't Fall in Love"), and the narrator uses imperatives, addressed to "you," as is typical of the genre. One of the effects of addressing the reader in this manner is to deliberately distance the speaker from the subject of his story, but this is clearly a very personal story of a man rising from abject poverty to wealth and of a woman (known only as "the pretty girl" well into her fifties) whose life intersects with his. So how does one become filthy rich in rising Asia? Through one form of corruption or another: hustling, stealing, prostituting, threatening, payback, demeaning, disloyalty, submission to those even more corrupt than oneself, etc. It's a life shadowed by sadness and anxiety, even when one's efforts succeed. Hamid gives us keen insights into life in "rising Asia" (no exact location or even a country is ever named), a view that contrasts with recent western paranoia about those nations supposedly poised to take over the world's economy. It's a story about the lengths to which desperation drives human beings in an increasingly materialistic world, and about the discovery, in the end, of what is most important to our lives.
Great story about ambition and "success". Tells a lot about a China most of us know little about can also tell us a bit about ourselves. Short book but great reader and story.
Obviously, the title has almost nothing to do with the main idea of the book. It is written in the style of a self help book (2nd person!) but is really chronicling the life of a man who does become wealthy for a time. This book, perhaps more than any I have read, portrays an honest look at what it is like being an average human. The character (you!) has conflicting emotions, a hard set of circumstances but a mostly hopeful disposition, which turns to being driven and finally somewhat retrospective.
I can never tell if this book's story is set in the author's home country of Pakistan or in what I perceive to be "rising Asia" -Eastern Asia. I assume it to be the former.
I didn't like this one quite as much as "the reluctant fundamentalist" though they both have a similar quality. I get the sense the quality is that they feel like they are intended for an American audience to get a grasp on what it is like for others in our world. I said earlier "an average human" because I think us Americans don't often understand what the average human is like. We (Americans) represent only 250 million of this world of 6+ billion people. In my experience of living abroad, this gets at the average human as i understand it.
I liked that the book seemed to have a grasp on real humanity. Hamid stays near the details of life and doesn't overhype any of it. I listened to the audiobook of hamid's reading of it and though his voice bordered on monotone, I think it was actually quite helpful.
This is an amazing book from an incredible writer. Beautiful imagery. Hamid captures in a subtle reference what other writers spend pages trying to say. I loved this book.
The narrator (apologies, since the considerably-skilled author narrated himself) flirted with monotony a few times, but he has woven a very interesting tale of a human life with the framework of the self-help book as a better-than-average jump-off point.
Any moment involving a life transition for "the pretty girl"...
I'm not sure it could go better - a different presentation, or presenter, would have messed up a presentation that already grabbed the "rising" of his image of modern-day Asia pretty well.
The military chapter... WHEW!
From the opening line the author/reader has 'you', and you are the main character. Voice, pacing and story kept me hooked; luckily I was on a road trip or I probably would have driven in circles to finish it. Hamid is a master at his craft.
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