Every month the NZ Listener chooses a new book for its Book Club, in March the book is How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Fig Tree) the new (so new it will only be arriving in the shop at the end of the week) novel by Mohsin Hamid. Hamid’s second novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Penguin) became an international bestseller (which I didn’t read) and was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize.
I agreed to take part in the bookseller podcast the book club creates and then was confronted with reading the book – like most people I don’t really like reading when I have to read, when I must read because I have said I would. Well, as you will know if you are familiar with this blog I usually end up just loving or at least appreciating the book I did multiple procrastinatory things to avoid reading.
Deciding this, procastionation practicised as an art, was no way for a grown-up bookseller to approach the matter, I read How to Get Filthy Rich... on Sunday after receiving it on Thursday – and can I just say – HOORAY! Unputdownable. Those of you who are going to read this clever, arresting and original novel in the next few weeks are in for a treat, I feel slightly jealous at what lies ahead of you…
Based on the myriad self-help business books devoured by the young, thrusting and ambitious of ‘rising ‘ Asia, this is an astonishing story, of an unnamed young boy and his journey to getting filthy rich in an Asia on the rise, seemingly transforming but still very much as it has every been. He is a lovely character, real and contradictory, and by the end of the book I wished I knew his name, or even the name of the place in Asia the book it set in but I guess that is the point: this could be the tale of anyone in everycity. The writing is beautiful, immediate and straightforward, sometimes breathtakingly harsh, occasionally, especially in the last few pages, stunningly lyrical – much like rising Asia.
Won’t say too much more at the moment – check back with the NZ Listener Book Club to find out when the podcast will be broadcast, to read what their inter/reviewers have to say and to join in the conversation…February’s book was Miss Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (200 years since publication).