How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robin Leggett
Reviewed by Robin Leggett
Summary: A bitter-sweet love story disguised as a self help book. This short book is beautifully judged and memorably touching.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0241144664

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Inside Mohsin Hamid's How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a bitter-sweet love story disguised as a self help book. It's a well structured concept and works nicely. Each chapter is presented in the format of those common to the self help genre, with advice like 'Move to the City', 'Get an Education' etc., although the chapter entitled 'Be Prepared to Use Violence' is a notable omission from most business tomes and self help books. After some general chatty comments in the self help book style, the attention turns to two people who are named only 'the boy' and 'the pretty girl', charting their rise and fall from rural poverty in an unnamed Asian country (although it certainly feels like Pakistan) to business success and wealth in the city. The two are not a couple, but their lives cross at frequent times and he, in particular, remains infatuated with his childhood acquaintance.

Some novels that use concepts like this can feel forced, but this never does, largely because the self help advice is fairly similar to an author's structure for plot development. In fact, it may well be that this is a true self help book in that the self it most helps is the writer's. Ultimately the structure feels like it serves the story rather than the other way around.

In addition to some acute and often amusing observations about social conditions in the region, the book is a touching story of love and ambition. 'The boy' and 'the pretty girl' may be unusually fortunate in their abilities to rise to the top and become 'filthy rich' in Asia, the obstacles they have to overcome to achieve this are amongst the same challenges for most people in the region and the chaos of the urban development in particular is beautifully presented.

It is by no means a long book. The page count is modest and it's a book that you can comfortably read in one or two sittings. The story flies by and is somewhat episodic as 'the boy' in particular, who is the main focus of the story, faces the challenges laid out in the self help book. But for all the social comment and business development of the plot, what I will remember this book most is a superbly touching love story. For much of the book, the lives of 'the boy' and 'the pretty girl' are separate but in the moments where they collide, the book positively soars.

The ending of the book is beautifully judged and provides some of the most enduring images from the story. I simply wished the book were longer. Definitely a book you should help yourself to.

Our grateful thanks to the kind people at Hamish Hamilton for sending us this book.

If you enjoyed this style, then In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin, a collection of short stories, is bound to appeal as well.

Buy How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid at Amazon.com.


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