Title: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Penguin Books India
MRP: Rs 499/- (Hard Cover)
There is something about Mohsin Hamid’s writing that hooks the reader to it. Ever since I read his second book ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’, I could not stop myself from reading his first one, ‘Moth Smoke’. His writing has an erudite quality about it. The sentences are very capable of sucking the reader into the plot. You feel as if you too are one of the characters. ‘Moth Smoke’ was dark and racy, while TRF was a piquant and stirring account of a scholarly consultant after the 9/11 attacks.
His latest title, ‘How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia’ again presents an unusual take on life. Hamid is a master of narration and never fails to surprise and delight the readers. Moth Smoke was narrated like a court hearing giving the responsibility of delivering the final judgement to the reader and TRF was in author monologue. This title is in second person, the protagonist is ‘you’, and the characters are without any names. They are just how they are related to ‘you’ like wife, sister, father and the like. Moreover, this book is styled as a self help book with 12 chapters or steps describing the protagonist’s life from early childhood till death. Basically, each step describes the usual path followed by business people striving to make a name in rising Asia- the cities of Asia that are fast developing into burgeoning commercial hubs that swallow a portion of rustic innocence and humanity each day.
So, the protagonist (you) is a child of a cook and lives with his brother, sister and parents in an urban city in rising Asia (Karachi) in a slum. He grows up to be a rowdy teenager but with an inclination for education and is the only one in his family to finish college. His elder brother becomes a spray painter while his sister is married off early. He too works part time as a DVD delivery boy, and gets a chance to interact with a local girl he has a diehard crush on. She too lives in abject poverty and works in a local beauty parlor. He then starts off his own venture and gets married and becomes filthy rich, absorbing all the strange changes that shape his life. However, one thing remains constant: his love for his crush (pretty girl) with whom his path crosses in very interesting manners.
The plot is good enough to hold the reader’s attention and is a page turner for sure. Hamid describes the poverty, romance and corruption in a very graphic style, making the story somewhat explicit in parts. Apart from a few complicated and elaborate sentences here and there, overall, the language is very well constructed and different. It is a far cry from all the racy novels with shallow plots and amateurish styles that have been flooding the book markets these days.
I enjoyed reading it, for it is not every day that you come across a novel written in second person, styled on ‘self-help’ theme!