Saturday, May 11, 2013

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

Oh I do love a book that you don't want to finish reading because reading it is so lovely!  Those books don't come along very often, but with the help of a knowledgable sales woman at Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville, NC this one made its way into my hands.  Moshin Hamid is an author I discovered last year when I read The Reluctant Fundamentalist - which has lately been made into a movie!  I loved the novel and look forward to seeing the movie.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is couched as a self-help book and written in second person. Chapter headings suggest earnest instructions for attaining wealth - Get an Education, Learn from a Master, Work for Yourself.  In each chapter, the individual that the speaker is giving instructions to ages until the final section - Have an Exit Strategy - when the end is near.  This nameless individual learns about life, love and business in a nameless Asia location, and ultimately realizes what is more important than riches.  

I don't know whether I agree with the reviewers who make Gatsby comparisons.  I do agree with the sales clerk who convinced me to buy the book that it is one you long to dip back into - reread sections - because the prose is as liquid as the cover image.  Near the end, the narrator cautions, 
We are all refugees from our childhoods.  And so we turn among other things, to stories.  To write a story, to read a story, is to be a refugee from the state of refugees.
If I were still teaching, this is a book I would love to discuss with students.  A relative short read, it will be a good book club book.  One that Dave Eggers calls "Completely unforgettable".

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