Sunday, 16 June 2013

How to get filthy rich in rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

It was just a coincidence that I saw the movie The Great Gatsby when I was in Seattle recently  and read Mohsin Hamid's "How to get filthy rich in rising Asia  when I returned to Lucknow in India.I had read  Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby  about a few years  earlier, and finished it with some sad sense of ending .The novel , the movie both are great .Mohsin Hamid 's book did remind me of Gatsby, and at many levels , it evoked similar feelings in  .The book is about the rise and fall of the protagonist("You") in an Asian city..He succeeds in bringing about  the flavour of a  typically Asian city and people through his work.
                  Self-help books are very popular among  poor but ambitious boys and girls in Asia. Mohsin has shaped his novel  around this frame , and has created a riveting story of a poor ,boy based in a rural area of  rising  Asia .He  traces his journey of becoming filthy rich as a  corporate tycoon, controlling a  huge , sprawling business of supplying bottled  drinking water .His  quest  for wealth and love go together.The Pretty girl , on whom our nameless hero  has consistently set eyes till the very end , also learns how girls become rich and famous in rising Asia .Their paths cross several times , each pursuing  individual  ambition to be rich , still loving each other , till  in their twilight , they  live together , till  they  reach their end , one after another .There are only three persons to attend the funeral of the Pretty girl , and  later , about the same number for our hero.
              The book has 228 pages and 12 chapters.Each chapter  is based on a lesson in self-help;Move to the city;Get an education;Don't fall in love;Avoid idealists ;Learn from a master;Work for yourself;Be prepared to use violence;Befriend a bureaucrat;Patronize the artists of war;Dance with debt;Focus on the fundamentals;Have an exit strategy.The hero is "You". No character is named .The characters are addressed like pretty girl , politician , bureaucrat implying that there could be one or more such persons you may come across in daily life in rising Asia.But let us be clear :by no stretch of imagination , it is a self-help book .It is only that the protagonist is a struggling  ,ambitious  youth in rising Asia .The book is a first rate literary novel , based on this format of 12 self-help rules .The result is a book which is a thousand times more powerful than any self-help book could ever be.(In all honesty , I am not against  reading self-help books .I am not one of those who make fun of those who read self-help books .But literary books are obviously a class apart , and no self-help book can ever come near any of these .
                      The book contains many instances of sacrifice of morality when a  poor , rural youth is determined to be rich fast enough in rising Asia .These are dark sides of  system, which need the attention of all of us , young and old , men and women alike.We need to  provide in rising Asia clean opportunities  , incentives and systems for our youth to rise, earn  and achieve.
                            It is  an extremely well written book of fiction which stays with us long after we have read it. .I strongly recommend you to read it .