How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Mohsin Hamid, Riverhead Books, 2013, 228 pp
I was so impressed by the writing in this short novel that I am determined to read both of Mohsin Hamid's earlier novels.
This one is the story of one Asian man's rise from the poorest of rural boys to wealth and corporate power. Hamid uses the construct of a self-help book with the book's author speaking to the aspiring man in the second person.
Many readers and reviewers found both the self-help book conceit and the second person voice either unimpressive or annoying. I found it an inventive if not brilliant way of telling a story that has featured in various novels over the past several years, including The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga as well as Tash Aw's Five Star Billionaire.
This novel is also a consummate piece of satire about business practices in today's world including rapacious criminality and the personal sacrifice entailed in becoming a self-made success.
The relationship between this unnamed entrepreneur and the one woman he ever loved is bittersweet but again creates an underlying treatise on the ways that both poverty and materialism can break down the human requirements for family and connection.
That all this depth and breadth is packed into a slim and compulsively readable novel is a feat not found in several of the long novels published in 2013.
(How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)