It’s Saturday, I’m in a coffee shop (ironically drinking tea) and I’ve got a book on the table begging to be reviewed in five minutes. Let’s get cracking.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (hereafter How To…) by Moshin Hamid tells the fictional biographies of two characters (one male, one female) set against the backdrop of urban India. The novel begins with the male’s story as he travels with his family from a rural village to the big, rapidly growing, city in pursuit of the great Indian dream of “making it big”. Once there the boy and his family faces many trials and tribulations. Poor hygiene, arranged marriages, poverty, these are all issues the family must tackle, just like his female counterpart. She’s a salon assistant who dreams of becoming an actress, he’s a boy with a family investing (literally) everything into his education. Yet in these squalid city streets the two meet and the female quickly becomes the male’s love interest. Whilst the biographies of both figures rise and fall and interweave and split respectively, it is the reader who is left guessing. Like a numbers book (or real life), each decision or near miss takes the characters down a completely different route to the point the reader is left guessing right until the very end who will come out top if it made them the better or worse character for having an easy rise or taking the chance card.
Hamid’s storytelling in How To… is brought to life by his use of the third person. It really is written like a self-help book and in the same manner it refuses to shy away from the gritty truth. The rapid expansion of developing countries and urban population (such as India) has created many problems. Hamid’s use of imagery and bluntness ensures readers always have their noses rubbed very much in the filth and inequality that has existed and still exists today. Will it inspire global change? Probably not. Will it make you revaluate your perceived standard of life? Yes.
If you enjoyed the storytelling of Slumdog Millionaire then you will very much enjoy this novel but if you prefer your romance to be more traditional and squeaky clean then give How To… a miss. For me though a great read.
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