01 March 2013

Imprint Friday: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Riverhead Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Dare I admit that I haven't yet read Mohsin Hamid? His first two novels, Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, received accolades, awards, and best-seller status. Next week, his third novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, will be available at a bookstore near you. I've read the first couple chapters and am already hooked.

Here's the publisher's summary:

From the internationally bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, 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.
So what has grabbed my attention? First, I love the opening of the novel (which the author reads in the embedded video, below). Right from the beginning paragraphs, I had a feel for both Hamid's sense of humor and the book's underlying serious issue of poverty. The mix creates a leveling effect, balancing the narrative between two extremes.

I'm also attracted to the universality of the novel's themes, such as the desire to better oneself, the power and allure of money, and the sweetness of love. In addition, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia shines light on how unevenly resources are distributed among people yet gives us hope that it's possible to find a way to be successful, at least monetarily.

Next, I think the structure of the book is intriguing. The story is told in twelve chapters (don't all programs have twelve steps?), each spotlighting a moment in our unnamed hero's climb to the top. As Hamid has mentioned in interviews (as well as in the video), we can read the book as one man's journey or we can think of each chapter as focusing on different people at particular points on the path to wealth.

The love story is a complicating factor, especially because chapter three expressly tells us not to fall in love--it will only distract us from our goal of getting filthy rich. But what happens when the boy falls head over heels for a girl? Will he find a way to have both money and the love of his life?

I can't wait to finish all twelve steps to see how our protagonist fights his way out of poverty to become a rich, rich man.

Here are some other opinions (click on the links to read the full reviews):
  • The New York Times review concludes: "With How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Mr. Hamid reaffirms his place as one of his generation’s most inventive and gifted writers."
  • The Guardian notes that the novel "is a joyously barbed satire on entrepreneurialism and the juggernaut of globalisation."
  • NPR says: "Thanks to Hamid's meticulous use of detail . . . we engage deeply with a serious character whose essence remains his own yet who stands as a figure representative of his time and place, an effect only the best novelists can create.
For more about Mohsin Hamid, see some of the many interviews he's given, for example at the Asia Society Blog and the New Yorker. You can also visit his website, follow him on Twitter, or like his Facebook page. In the following video, Hamid reads from the opening paragraphs of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and then discusses the novel.

Riverhead Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, visit the Riverhead website. While there, explore their terrific book list, check out authors in the news, and view some fun videos. Stay in the know by following them on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia at an indie or at a bookstore near you. (Link leads to an affiliate program.)
Published by Penguin USA / Riverhead, March 5, 2013
ISBN-13: 9781594487293

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Daryl 3/1/13, 10:50 AM  

oh another one calling my name, thanks!

bermudaonion 3/1/13, 11:07 AM  

I haven't read this author either but this book sounds excellent!

Zibilee 3/1/13, 12:49 PM  

Oh, the structure and style of this one, make me think that I really need to read it. I haven't read any of his other books, but from what you've said about this one, it seems I can't resist.

Julie P. 3/1/13, 3:46 PM  

Can't wait for this one!

Anonymous,  3/2/13, 12:01 AM  

I loooooooved The Reluctant Fundamentalist. For awhile, it was the book I tried to push on everyone.

Gilion at Rose City Reader 3/2/13, 2:44 PM  

This looks great and now I want to learn more about this author. Thanks for the excellent post!

Anonymous,  3/3/13, 1:04 PM  

I am seeing this title EVERYWHERE!

Anonymous,  3/3/13, 1:04 PM  

I am seeing this title EVERYWHERE!

Laurie C 3/16/13, 8:05 AM  

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an excellent audiobook from Blackstone Audio! Narrated by Satya Bhabha. I went into it knowing nothing about the story except that the story's narrator was a suspected terrorist, and it was amazing.

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