peteg's blog - noise - books - 2013 04 29 MohsinHamid HowToGetFilthyRichInRisingAsia

Mohsin Hamid: How to get filthy rich in rising Asia

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You read a review in the New York Times. You are struck by the reference to a lifelong infatuation with the pretty girl. You put an order in at Book Depository and meanwhile get help elsewhere. Eventually you have a chance to read the opening chapter and decide to savour the remainder, choosing to plough through the author's earlier reflections on terrorists and (t)errorism first.

Having never read a self-help book the nods to that genre pass you by. It does not inspire you to become a non-expired-labeled expired goods salesman or start a drinking water bottling plant in your bathtub, though you have already moved to the city and forged commercial links with the military. The abuse of the aquifer under your city reminds you of the situation in the country town you escaped from. You come away with an appreciation of the twin pivots of Lahore and Karachi; perhaps Islamabad is beyond your orbit. Your eventual decrepitude is more Alice Munro than Patrick White. The pretty girl fails to disappoint (p53):

The next day she is gone. [...] You are distraught. You are the sort of man who discovers love through his penis. You think the first woman you make love to should also be the last. Fortunately for you, for your financial prospects, she thinks of her second man as the one between her first and her third.

As the book unfolds the the pretty girl becomes Rushdie's Parvati-the-Witch, without the child. Somehow you are put in mind of the "choose life" spiel from Trainspotting. You read another review in the Guardian. You order the author's debut Moth Smoke from Book Depository and add Mohammed Hanif to your list of authors to check out.