Sunday, June 2, 2013

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Mohsin Hamid

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising AsiaLook, unless you're writing one, a self-help book is an oxymoron. You read a self-help book so someone who isn't yourself can help you, that someone being the author. 

"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."

I didn't love How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, but it was certainly an interesting and very distinctive novel. It's told in the second person, addressing "you" as the main character, which was intriguing. Second person present tense definitely makes the book more intimate; not only is the reader the reader, but also the narrator, the protagonist, the thing that the book centers around. I will admit that I never really imagined myself as the main character, because that would have been just a little odd. But the idea is good. 

Each chapter purports to explain one step in the path towards getting filthy rich. The first, for example, is "Move to the City". There's "Get an Education", "Don't Fall in Love", "Avoid Idealists", "Learn from a Master", "Work For Yourself", "Be Prepared to Use Violence", "Befriend a Bureaucrat", and more. But it becomes increasingly clear to the reader that this is not really a self-help book. It doesn't offer anything concrete to make yourself "filthy rich"; it's more an exploration of sorts. 

Overall, though, I was disappointed with How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. My expectations were high, although not astronomically so, and the book wasn't one of those compelling, fascinating, novels that I will return to again and again. I did like the writing, and it was slyly funny in places, but it never wowed me. Not at all. Also, it went by too quickly, and was kind of disturbing. It's definitely not a book for the faint of heart. It can be slyly humorous at times, which I did enjoy. I will say that it's not worth $26.95. Maybe I'll do a post about how ridiculously expensive hardcover adult books are.

This is a very short review, but I really don't have that much to say about How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. There were some aspects that I liked, but many others that I didn't. The writing just wasn't very compelling at times. 

Read How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia:
  • if you like fiction
  • if you like Mohsin Hamid
  • if you like books set in "rising Asia"
  • if you like books that purport to be one thing but are really something else
228 pages.

Rating: **

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