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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

A striking slice of contemporary life at a time of crushing upheaval, two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.

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From the internationally bestselling 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 hopes it depicts. And it creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.

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Rating: 3 out of 5.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve kind of had to think about whether I truly enjoyed reading this one or not. Kind of on the fence about it at the moment. Confused and disliked it at first then it sort of grew on me. I read it for Life’s Library Book Club. I think anyone looking to read something written a bit differently may enjoy it.

The Story
It’s more of a love story, more of an autobiographical quality really, which was a unexpected to me, having not paid little attention to the description as I often do, just scanning it for key words that make me say “yay I’m excited” or “nay this is going to be a slog,” which felt indulgent if only going by the title as I read the beginning chapters.

I wasn’t disappointed, just intrigued and surprised by how it all came to be in a book like this. I had a lot of questions that were answered in the very end so I glad I stuck with it as it did have some redemptive qualities. There just wasn’t a crux or a character/plot arch per say, yet it kind of was in itself as a whole if that makes sense once you hear from the author himself, as I did by listening to an author interview that made the read a bit more complete for me. More of a passing on of wisdom in a different sort of sense.

The Writing
This is the unique bit about the book. Written in 2nd POV, present tense, often omniscient. Sort of talking in a futuristic sense as well. Sort of built up the premise up in this way, which also made for a very long-winded account.

I admit I was incredibly bored at the beginning, not as much about the content, though it felt jumbled to me and I had a hard time processing it, but mostly in the writing in the way it was presented. My brain was tired of the POV and self-help theme, but I got more into it by the end which you could argue its effectiveness of that.

There was no framing. Completely lacked which made it amiss for me.

The style spoke of universal implication and also individual anonymity. This I quite liked.

Descriptions
I think for me, there was just so much detailed play-by-play. Not with a lot of descriptors or emotional state, not a lot details of atmosphere or mood, just more about people doing things. All the smell descriptors were about disgust, nothing about cuisine or spice which I would have liked to have known. Which is okay, just made me antsy because I kept waiting for something to connect to, to look forward to, especially something about the How to part. It wasn’t a complete bait-and-switch though. I won’t spoil it here, but I was happy to have read it to the end. Though overall I am still not sure how really invested I was.

Tried hard at being somewhat philosophical, lofty, kind of gibberish at times, too abstract for my liking. Very likely could have been my mood and hunger for more of a connected tone or escapist reading experience at the moment.

Probably what it really was now that I think about it, was this use of far fetched vocabulary to describe things that were much more simpler than they came out to be. I had to look up a lot of words. Perhaps this is what distracted me the most. Took me out of the story.

The Characters
All this yearning for physical intimacy and hardly a mention of emotional intimacy. No real introspection, no one barely gets to talk about their feelings. It often came across as a very empty, disconnected read. In the end though, it sort of read like a mobster story which I enjoyed.

I loved the comedic bits. Though I don’t think I got all the cultural humor. Felt like an inside joke sometimes where I was the only one that didn’t know what was going on.

I absolutely loved that the author took risks in the writing, playing around with a less common approach and style that is unique to the lit fic genre as it is typically classified.

I think I probably would have appreciated it more if I knew more about the culture he was basing this book off of, the dilemmas, successes, and backstory.

View all my reviews

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