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Hamid's How-To For Success, 'Filthy Rich' In Irony

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Hamid's How-To For Success, 'Filthy Rich' In Irony

Book Reviews

Hamid's How-To For Success, 'Filthy Rich' In Irony

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. The novelist Mohsin Hamid lives in Lahore, Pakistan. His first two novels were hits in England and the U.S. Now, he's out with his third. It's called "How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia" and our book critic Alan Cheuse says it's his best yet.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: "How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia" ostensibly takes the form of a how-to book for South Asians on the make. Though at first, you might think this approach is just a gimmick or too vague and hollow, you the reader, become quickly caught up in the life of a nameless main character. The narrator introduces him as a sickly village child and addresses him in the second person, recounting his rise in a dozen chapters through every subsequent stage of his life.

Chapter One: move to the city, Hamid commands. Two: get an education. Three: don't fall in love. Four: avoid idealists. Five: learn from a master. And so on. From city delivery boy he rises to become a quick-witted petty entrepreneur and finally emerges as an owner of a major urban water company, supplying the military and government with the liquid of life.

How to get filthy rich? By the final chapter, titled Have An Exit Strategy, we have the exemplary man's full resume, including familial devotion, pangs and pains of affection, poignant depictions of love, lust, marriage, family and business, business, business. And the meticulously depicted real life of, for good or bad, the guts and brains and bones of a usually uninvestigated part of our planet.

Think of a globalized version of "The Great Gatsby." Yes, because for all of the gimmickry, this book is nearly that good.

CORNISH: That's Alan Cheuse reviewing the novel "How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia." It's by Mohsin Hamid and you can hear Hamid talk about the book tomorrow on MORNING EDITION.

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