How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel

Mohsin Hamid
"Mr. Hamid reaffirms his place as one of his generation's most inventive and gifted writers." –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "A globalized version of The Great Gatsby . . . [Hamid's] book is nearly that good." –Alan Cheuse, NPR "Marvelous and moving." –TIME Magazine 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 hope it depicts. And it creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-04-02
Yes, this is a quick read, but that does not stop it from being powerful. In two hours surrounding a delicious breakfast of eggs, chicken, a bagel, and a spinach shake, I experienced true and deep catharsis.

The stark prose and ambiguity surrounding every character, setting and plot development left room for me as the reader to project my own emotions and experiences onto the story and especially onto the main character. I felt, viscerally, both the optimistic joy of success and the intense longing for lost love. That the story is told from the second-person only reinforces this incredible connection between reader and story.

As a skeptic of all forms of self help, I enjoyed the satirical self-help framework. I also applaud that it fails -- and that the narrator is fully conscious and upfront about that failure.

I don't cry often, and never due to books or movies. But at the end, which arrived far too soon, I cried, just absolutely sobbing with wistful happiness at experiencing a full life outside my own -- birth, love, struggle, death -- and it was all very confusing for a young, usually-stoic male raised in a masculinity-crazed society.

I found this book to be exceptional.
10/10, would recommend.

Side note: I read this book based on a recommendation from venture capitalist Chris Sacca in Tim Ferris's podcast. Apparently Sacca assigns it as required reading for startup founders at companies in which he invests.
Interesting but not moving. Funny how the second person, which forces the reader into the role of protagonist, almost always makes it harder for me to connect to the narrative. (The exception happens to be my favorite book, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler.)
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