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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Cover of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
A Novel
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"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 and Exit West, 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.
"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 and Exit West, 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.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book ILLUSIONS MAKING SENSE OF ILLUSIONS


    An essay by Mohsin Hamid

    In 2009, after two decades spent mostly in London and on the Atlantic coast of the United States, I moved back to Pakistan to write my third novel. I'd often visited my birth city of Lahore in the interim, sometimes for six months or even a year, but always with a fixed departure date in mind. This return, though, was different. I came with no plans to leave.


    Pakistan is frequently thought of as a place apart: unique, violent, troubled. And it is. But it also a piece of a whole: a world knitting itself together, an Asia being transformed. I re-entered life in Lahore to find pits being dug for office towers, a surfeit of cell-phone masts and shopping malls, proliferating traffic jams and commuter-hour radio shows. I visited Delhi, Bombay, Dubai, Bangkok and observed the same. I saw an East becoming more like the West, or rather a planet where such sweeping distinctions were dissolving.

    And much else seemed to be dissolving. Old ways of doing things. Neighborhoods. A stampede for wealth was underway, pulled along by televised lives of previously unimagined opulence, beaten from behind by the switch of crushing poverty. Money was becoming religion; religion was becoming politics. Spirituality, it seemed, could wait.

    But death does not wait. To be human is to know ever-present mortality. And so we ache. Our selves ache. Dashing forward together, we recognize we will be plucked away, alone. In the face of this, as Asia rises, as the pursuit of money becomes paramount, as past repositories of solace are drained of meaning, what, if anything, can a novel do?

    Modern science increasingly suggests that what we think of as the self is an illusion. "You" are in actuality a bundle of neural processes, most of them unconscious. Yet you need the illusion of a self. And you create it with stories. With stories about who you are, and stories about your surroundings.

    Some of these stories may be novels. And some of these novels may play, as the novel I was writing began to do, with notions of self-help, with notions of self-transcendence, which is to say with love and with death. For novels are illusions trying to make sense of illusions, stories trying to make sense of stories. Novels, in other words, are ourselves.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 3, 2012
    Ambition rules in this playful third novel from PEN/Hemingway Award finalist Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist). The novel follows the unnamed narrator’s journey from his village childhood to becoming a corporate superstar in the big city. The novel is told in the second person, the narrator ushering us through a life in an unidentified developing Asian country while elucidating the many conditions that must be met to become filthy rich. The hero seems to be on the right track; still, he must navigate the usual obstacles in life that could hinder the way to his final goal: family illness, bad luck, and most dangerously, love. The protagonist is merely a teenager when he meets his ideal woman, but this pretty girl’s life has a similar arc as the hero’s. Though readers may find it frustrating that they never overlap for long, the intermittent intersections provide them an anchor to the lives they left in desperation. The book takes its formal cues from the self-help genre, but the adopting of that form’s unceasing optimism also nullifies any sense of depth or struggle. Fortunately, Hamid offers a subtle and rich look at the social realities of developing countries, including corruption, poverty, and how economic development affects daily life from top to bottom. Agent: Jay Mandel, William Morris Endeavor.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from May 1, 2013
    An extravagantly good alternate-universe Horatio Alger story for the teeming billions, affirming all that's right--and wrong--with economic globalization. "The whites of your eyes are yellow," writes Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, 2007, etc.), "a consequence of spiking bilirubin levels in your blood. The virus affecting you is called hepatitis E. Its typical mode of transmission is fecal-oral. Yum." The "you" in question is the unnamed protagonist, addressed throughout, unusually, in the second person through the fictive frame of a self-help book that is fairly drenched in irony. But, like Hamid's debut novel, Moth Smoke (2000), there's more than a little of the picaresque in this bildungsroman. As our anonymous hero comes of age and goes well beyond majority, he confronts the challenges not only of chasing out the hep E virus, but also of finding love, work and satisfaction in life--the stuff of everyday life everywhere. The younger subject's family lives in an overcrowded, urban slum in some unnamed South Asian nation--perhaps, to judge by a few internal clues, the author's native Pakistan, though he is careful not to specify--where his father's small salary as a cook ("he is not a man obsessed with the freshness or quality of his ingredients") is at least enough to fend off the starvation so many of their neighbors endure. The family, like many of the people our hero will meet, is displaced from the countryside, having followed an early lesson of the vade mecum: "Moving to the city is the first step to getting filthy rich in rising Asia." Indeed, he attains material success, but he's always just out of reach of the true love of his life--and if anything else, this exceptionally well-written novel is not about the Hobbesian grasping and clawing of first impression, but about the enduring power of family, love and dreams. Another great success for Hamid and another illustration of how richly the colonial margins are feeding the core of literature in English.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    October 1, 2012

    The title could come from one of those get-rich-quick books, and in fact Hamid imaginatively uses that genre's format to shape his narrative. But this is very much a novel, by the author of the Betty Trask Award-winning Moth Smoke and the best-selling, Man Booker-short-listed The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Here, the nameless protagonist goes from rags to riches as he builds a corporate empire based on that increasingly scarce commodity, water. He also crosses paths repeatedly and passionately with a pretty young woman on the rise. Hamid always manages to nail the realities of the culturally seismic post-9/11 world.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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