The book is a “how-to” guide for South Asians on how one person goes from impoverished to wealthy. The entire piece is in the second person (ex. You do this…), which makes for an interesting and captivating read. It follows the life of a young-boy as he navigates his way through the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood while growing up in a third world country. When you finish the book, you feel as though you have lived an entire life cycle viewed through the lens of another person’s reality. This is reality is deeply different than my own.
After reading this book, I have read every Mohsin Hamid book published. Every now and then I’ll come across one of his lines and I am reminded that his writing speaks to my heart, whilst punching me in the throat. Due to this characteristic I will buy and read every book he publishes. He has created in me a true fan (http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/).
Fiction / Self-help
”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. This is true of the whole self-help genre. It’s true of how-to books, for example. And it’s true of personal improvement books too. Some might even say it’s true of religion books. But some others might say that those who say that should be pinned to the ground and bled dry with the slow slice of a blade across their throats. So it’s wisest simply to note a divergence of views on that subcategory and move swiftly on.”
“This book is a self-help book. Its objective, as it says on the cover, is to show you how to get filthy rich in rising Asia. And to do that it has to find you, huddled, shivering, on the packed earth under your mother’s cot one cold, dewy morning.”
“You feel a love you know you will never be able to adequately explain or express to him, a love that flows one way down the generations, not in reverse, and is understood and reciprocated only when time has made of a younger generation an older one.”
“You are a door to an existence she does not desire, but even if the room beyond is repugnant, that door has won a portion of her affection”
“Writers and readers seek a solution to the problem that time passes, that those who have gone are gone and those who will go, which is to say every one of us, will go. For there was a moment when anything was possible. And there will be a moment when nothing is possible. But in between we can create.”
“She sees how you diminish her solitude, and, more meaningfully, she sees you seeing, which sparks in her that oddest of desires...”
“Without being conscious of it, you have allowed yourself to become fond of him not for the content of his character but for the fidelity of his echo.”
Life involves, in no particular order, the following themes; sex, love, loss, death, fulfilment, wealth, ambition, vigor, vitality, and sickness. Some people are more privileged than others to experience more of the good stuff, and less of the bad. In the end we all experience to some degree the themes above. We cannot escape the present moment, therefore as the tides shift the personal human experience will change shape accordingly. We all have inner battles, which our peers will know nothing about.
This book teaches you about compassion and empathy. These are lessons that are not easily soaked up by the populist. Empathetic views are some of the most underrated character traits in the world. This book is a reminder to be compassionate because most people don't have a clue what they are doing. They have been put on this earth, and they are simply trying to do the best they can with the cards they have been dealt. Life is too short to be judgmental and angry. No one gets out of this thing alive, and we are all going to the same place. So, drink generously from life’s portions of passion, fulfillment, ambition, vitality, and love because all of this, one day, will go away.
Rating (As a coffee-lover, I like to view everything through the acquisition & consumption caffeine):
9 out of 10 espresso shots
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