Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Mohsin Hamid
Riverhead Books: 2013

It isn't every day that you encounter a novel written in the second person perspective or that is written with the loose conceit of being a self help book directed at the protagonist, but How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is both. 

In this case, "you" the reader are a young man in a poor Asian village and the novel will track your journey from poverty and tell you how to become rich.  But, it will do so by using your life as the example all the while mocking the idea of a "self help" book with chapters of "move to the city" and "work for yourself". 

While the second person perspective and self help format may imply some sort of overcooked gimmick, Rising Asia is anything but.  This is a moving story of a man fighting his way into a better life, dreaming of and desiring a woman he can never have, and overcoming a society that is and isn't built for people like him.  It just happens to do so with a great deal of quirk and a whole heaping spoonful of biting nastiness.  Rising Asia is wonderful and funny and in all ways a revelation to me.  I haven't read anything quite like this before.

I have to thank the Tournament of Books for including Rising Asia because I highly doubt I ever would have encountered this book otherwise. 

At a spare 228 pages, Rising Asia is a blazingly fast read and it is just the right length. At times, you may want more, but at no point does Rising Asia overstay its welcome. 


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