The book we’re talking about


What is it about?
Written in the second person, “you” are a smart kid who grows up in a poor South Asian country, working the corrupt systems to your advantage. It’s darkly funny and brutishly human.

Why are we talking about it?
A major publisher, strong blurbs (from Dave Eggers, Ben Fountain, Philip Pullman), a string of outstanding reviews and a distinctive, powerful narrative all suggest that come awards/best of the year time, Hamid’s powerful, troubling book will be named among the highlights.

Who wrote it?
Mohsin Hamid is a Pakistani writer whose previous book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize.

Who will read it?
People who enjoyed both Bright Lights, Big City and Behind The Beautiful Forevers. People who like meta-narratives (each chapter opens with a discussion of self-help books, the book you’re reading, and the act of reading a book.) Readers who like cynical literature about the “real” world.
What do the reviewers say?
New York Times: “With How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Mr. Hamid reaffirms his place as one of his generation’s most inventive and gifted writers.”
Washington Post: “Working within the frame of a self-help book would seem constricting at best, annoying at worst, but Hamid tells a surprisingly moving story and — crucially — a short one.”
Impress your friends: The first self-help book to use the name was Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct, published in 1859 by Samuel Smiles. The founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda was apparently a fan – according to The Toyota Way by Jeffrey K. Liker, a copy of the book is displayed in a museum at his birth place. You can read a copy of Self-Help at the Gutenberg Project.
Opening line: Look, unless you’re writing one, a self-help book is an oxymoron. You read a self-help book so someone who isn’t yourself can help you, that someone being the author.