Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid was a novel that traces through someone's life born into third-world poverty.

The book is nominally about business and making a living, and includes the quote "to become filthy rich in rising Asia, sooner or later you must work for yourself," but is also very much about someone making a life and doing what they can born into brutal circumstances. As part of that, Hamid's work seems to cover that while we can influence many things in our lives, it's also often more a case of things happen to us and then we have to respond.

Two nonfiction authors that came to mind for me from reading Hamid's novel were John Gardner and Katherine Boo, with Gardner writing of someone building their life in a speech I posted on years ago and Boo doing the sensational Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a book that I read and wrote about in 2013 and which features the subtitle Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.

Hamid's novel featured some lyrical and almost poetic language in places, particularly as the story reached its conclusion, with the final sentence of the book below...

And she comes to you, and she does not speak, and the others do not notice her, and she takes your hand, and you ready yourself to die, eyes open, aware this is all an illusion, a last aroma cast up by the chemical stew that is your brain, which will soon cease to function, and there will be nothing, and you are ready, ready to die well, ready to die like a man, like a woman, like a human, for despite all else you have loved, you have loved your father and your mother and your brother and your sister and your son and yes, your ex-wife, and you have loved the pretty girl, you have been beyond yourself, and so you have courage, and you have dignity, and you have calmness and in the face of terror, and awe, and the pretty girl holds your hand, and you contain her, and this book, and me writing it, and I too contain you, who may not yet even be born, you inside me inside you, though not in a creepy way, and so may you, may I, may we, so may all of us confront the end.