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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel [Hardcover]

Mohsin Hamid
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 5 2013
"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, 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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“A showcase for its author’s audacious talents… both an affecting and highly specific tale of love and ambition, and a larger metaphorical look at the startling social and economic changes that are … changing the lives of millions” -- Michiko Kakutani, in her “10 Favorite Books of 2013,” The New York Times

A Foreign Policy Leading Global Thinker
Shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature
Named a Best or Notable Book of 2013 by The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Chicago Tribune, Vogue, Apple, The Observer (London), The Sunday Times (London),  Financial Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, Kansas City Star, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Book Page, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews

“It is a measure of Mr. Hamid’s audacious talents that he manages to make his protagonist’s story work on so many levels. ‘You’ is, at once, a modern-day Horatio Alger, representing the desires and frustrations of millions in rising Asia; a bildungsroman hero, by turns knavish and recognizably human, who sallies forth from the provinces to find his destiny; and a nameless but intimately known soul, whose bittersweet romance with the pretty girl possesses a remarkable emotional power. 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.” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Thanks to Hamid's meticulous use of detail—and his sympathy for a man on the make in a society of endemic poverty—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… This tale of an unscrupulous striver may bring to mind a globalized version of The Great Gatsby. Given the unabashed gimmickry of Hamid's how-to design, it's a pleasant surprise to find that his book is nearly that good.” –Alan Cheuse, NPR

"A love story and bildungsroman disguised as a self-help book, and the result has all the inventiveness, exuberance and pathos that the writer's fans have come to expect… Marvelous and moving." –TIME Magazine

Extraordinarily clever… Hamid has taken the most American form of literature—the self-help book—and transformed it to tell… a surprisingly moving story.” –Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“The marriage of… two curiously compatible genres—self-help and the old-fashioned bildungroman—is just one of the pleasures of Mohsin Hamid’s shrewd and slippery new novel, a rags-to-rishes story that works on a head-splitting number of levels. It’s a love story and a study of seismic social change. It parodies a get-rich-quick book and gestures to a new direction for the novel, all in prose so pure and purposeful it pases straight through into the bloodstream. It intoxicates.” –Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Book Review

Wonderfully astringent… Hamid is a sly witness to a traditional culture’s dizzying trajectory—supermodels stalk city billboards; a drone hovers ominously in the sky—but his satiric impulse gives way to compassion for the intimacies that keep us tethered in a rapidly changing world.” –Vogue

“This is one of those original works that are also resonant as a record of human experience and geo-political shift, and a strong argument for Hamid as one of the most important writers working today. An enjoyable read no matter who ‘you’ are.” –The Daily Beast

"Relentlessly brilliant… Hamid is a master stylist, and his third novel is, I think, his best thus far… There is something so rich and so deeply authentic in [the protagonist’s] romance that its rendering alone hooks the reader… the novel ends with one of the most stunning final sentences I’ve read in contemporary fiction, a sentence that no review will ever quote, but an indelible sentence, which will live in your heart, mind, and soul long after you read it." –The Los Angeles Review of Books

"Dazzling an addictive, muscular piece of storytelling… [How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia] shows a writer at the height of his powers, with a hell of a story to tell… a tremendous novel: tender, sharp and formally daring, a portal into a fast-moving, vividly realised world." –The Guardian

"Mohsin Hamid’s latest novel boasts a startlingly distinctive voice as commanding and unadorned as its title." –Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

"Hamid exercises perfect control as he spins the life story of one man's struggle with turbulent times and economics in his unnamed Asian city. It's an impressive feat that he reveals this life, infancy to death, in a little more than 200 pages. That he achieves this with humor and pathos, and creates a last line that evokes the sweep of Molly Bloom's soliloquy in Ulysses—well, it knocked the skepticism right out of me… Vivid, pungent and sweet, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is the kind of well-told literary novel that restores faith in the genre. More of this, please." –Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Hamid is as much an inventive stylist as he is a gifted storyteller… As a result, his novels are compulsively readable, and "Rising Asia" is no exception… Tremendously profound and entertaining." –Alex Gilvarry, Boston Globe

“Bracingly inventive… it might be the best book you read in 2013.” –V Magazine

"Astounding… An ambitious, moving story about love and loneliness [that] constantly surprises… by reinventing itself just as characters reinvent themselves… At the heart of the book is [the] consideration of what it means to succeed, to rise or to help oneself. How does one live and die? …The questions simmer below the surface of this tremendous, wise and surprisingly moral book." –The San Francisco Chronicle

An utter delight… How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is one of the most tender narratives you will ever read… Amazing.” –Counterpunch

“Hamid is one of the best writers working todayHow to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is filled with flashes of brilliance, deeply moving passages, and … beautifully clear prose.” –The Millions

“Mohsin Hamid’s hotly anticipated new book tells the story of young love between capitalism and the latest target of its cupid’s arrow: Asia… Political, romantic, exciting, and a page-turner throughout.” –Harper’s Bazaar

"Brilliant In its cleverness, its slightly cruel satire and its complex understanding of both Western and Eastern paradigms, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is pure Hamid… His storytelling style is both timeless and contemporary, a postmodern Scheherazade… This novel is smart about many things, including medicine and the processes of death, but is smartest of all about literature itself.” –Marion Winik, Newsday

"Isn’t this the definition of great fiction, that even when it begins with a character (tubercular, hiding on the dirt floor under his mother’s cot) who’s nothing like you, by the end you are convinced that it really is about you? That’s a kind of miracle, of the sort that self-help books can only dream of achieving." –Salon

"The protagonist, who Hamid also calls 'you,' is, despite the absence of a name or identified origin, a wonderfully particularized person… when, in the last stages of life, 'you' gains a measure of serenity and wisdom, you have tears in your eyes and know that Hamid’s novel has done that which few novels are capable of: It has deepened feeling and provoked questions about the meaning of your own world… gripping storytelling.” –Washington Independent Review of Books

The kind of game Leo Tolstoy might have written, clear-eyed in its dissection of human folly, ambition and love.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Although Hamid's fictional works vary in style and substance, a distinctive sensibility pervades all three: simultaneously warm and ironic, elegant and profane, urbane but equipped with a strong B.S. detector.” –The Los Angeles Times

"In just 12 crisp chapters, you go from a diseased rural nobody to the model of self-made success. It is quite a journey… [A] considerable literary talent [who] deploy[s] the second-person narrative with astonishing skill… Hamid depicts a land where getting rich is not so much a luxury as a survival tactic." –The Economist

My recommendation for book groups this month is Mohsin Hamid's wry third novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia,

About the Author

Mohsin Hamid's first novel, Moth Smoke, won the Betty Trask Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Prize. His second, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a bestseller in the United States and abroad, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Hamid contributes to Time, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others. He lives in Lahore, Pakistan.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fallacy Behind the Dream Sept. 26 2013
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Its success, in the digital information age, is due to a large, well-educated workforce being available to push product, run computers, and promote new ideas. This new influx of workers consists of young, energetic and hopeful individuals who believe they have left poverty behind for a future of wealth and prosperity. Hamid's novel is about this middle-class journey that involves an evolving story of one man's dreams as they emerge from the aridity of abject poverty, flourish for a time in the fertility of a growing marketplace, only to flounder in the cruel world of colliding interests and unintended circumstances. The world Hamid describes is fast-paced, full of opportunity and risk, with no guarantee of ultimate success. Paralleling the narrative is an ongoing reference to the self-help book industry that attempts to sell Indian youth on the prospects of becoming wealthy if they only learn to take charge of their own lives. As the main character buys into the mantra of believing leads to achieving, he quickly learns that he has moved into a very dangerously competitive world full of dreamers like himself prepared to push the envelope at all costs. While he builds his water purification company by encroaching on the competition, he is forever haunted by somebody in his past that got the whole dream started in the first place: a young, "beautiful" aspiring actress who is chasing her own dream. Though they have feelings for each other, there is no chance of love here because everything revolves around getting ahead. I would classify this novel as an important psychological statement about what is happening in the new India as it wrestles with economic success. There are no quick ways to success in this very ancient and complex society that is currently going through a major growth spurt of modernization.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual style and easy read Sept. 23 2013
By P. Bawa
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Though I enjoyed the book, I would have liked some exposure to where the hero of the story goes. I would have preferred him to belong to a village or a city.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you're interested in the new Asia. Aug. 16 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You probably won't read a more insightful portrait of the life of a poor Asian moving from a village to the slums of the city, all written in the second person. If you’ve visited India and one of its many slums or, even if you haven’t, you’ll be able to picture life as experienced by the hero of this novel. You can imagine pursuing entrepreneurial gains in a similarly nefarious way. In your country, rules barely exist on the surface and become ever more murky the deeper you go. Basically, you do whatever you can do to get ahead. Bribing a local official is all part of the game, and so too, killing. You realize at a young age that you must choose between love and wealth. You’ve witnessed the desperate existence of your mother and father and so, you follow a lonelier life. You watch from a distance as the love your life pursues a similar existence to your own. You escaped the desperate life of the slum or small village but at what cost. Is it a cost that must be paid by all aspiring Asians? If you’re interested in the new Asia, you should read “How to Get Filthy Rich in the New Asia.”
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Voice May 19 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mr. Hamid is an exceptional young author who should be read by North Americans who, particularly since the Boston bombings, are trying to understand the cultural disconnect that is occurring between intelligent, well-educated young Asian males and North American society. It follows on the path begun by his previous works, "Moth Smoke", and the "Reluctant Fundamentalist." Taken as a group, they are a primer on the "Why" of the social disconnect. They are brilliantly written and brutally honest books by one of the brightest of the constellation of young writers emerging in Asia.
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By Mary Lavers TOP 500 REVIEWER
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is the novel I wish I had written. It's clever, it's poetic, it's memorable and--at the risk of overstating--it has weight, importance. It's a novel that seeped into my skin as soon as I started reading it and won't leave soon.

If it sounds like a self-help book, that's because it's meant to. Told like a series of self-help tips about how to become rich in Asia, it shows the stark contrast between the characters' aspirations and their impoverished reality. Think Slumdog Millionaire meets The Kite Runner. Plus, it's told in the notoriously tricky to pull off second-person. Any writer considering writing a novel in the second person should read this book first to see how to do it well.

I may wish that I had written this book, but I have a feeling that no one could have written this but Mohsin Hamid. I don't usually like to gush this much, but I was blown away by the talent of this writer. I can't wait to read more from him. I can't believe he was able to make me care so much about characters who were never given names, in a city that is never specified. Amazing and unforgettable.

I think the last time I was this moved by the beauty of prose was after I read Erick Setiawan's Of Bees and Mist. But at the same time this was a very personal reaction to the book, so I'm almost a little worried that if I say too much, I'll be setting the expectations impossibly high for anyone who hasn't read it yet. All I can say is that I personally loved it and would highly recommend it. It's not a book that is strictly dependent on its plot, setting or even form, as much is it is on the beauty of the language and the universality of the human condition.

Okay, I've definitely set the expectations too high with that statement.
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