I read this book for only one reason, I really wanted to read “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asian” which was cited in the New York Times as one of the best books of 2013, it sounded good, a novel told in the form of a self-help book, that’s pretty interesting. Unfortunately that novel has yet to be made available in audio form, so I went with this book, which was available and by the same author. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that good.
It’s a postmodern novel with a somewhat unusual writing style and a variety of literary tricks deployed. But unfortunately the writing style is too similar to Bret Easton Ellis and other 80’s brat pack era minimalist writers, and the tricks have a sort of “look mom no hands” feel to them. there is also a little too much directly described emotion “I feel board,” “I feel sad,” “I feel angry,” which is generally considered to be a mark of bad writing, the whole idea of showing not telling.
The story is rather bland, it’s about a love triangle, again another over-written plot. The other plot of a guy’s life falling apart because of drugs may not be an overdone subject mater, but it’s been well treated and also something that I generally don’t like to read about. Given the fact that said man is upper class in not the richest country in the world (Pakistan) makes me care much less for his struggle. In fact none of the characters you really care about, and that’s not good.
The names in the book can be difficult to follow and figure out who is who. This is the same problem that I have with Murakami books, however with his books they are written in Japanese originally and intended for Japanese first then the world second. Mohsin Hamid however was writing in English and intended for an English audience, so it’s a little harder to forgive the difficult names. That said he does use nicknames a good amount which helps, the main character Daru is easy enough to read and/or hear, and since most of the book is in his voice it’s easy to get around. His best friend usually goes by the nickname “Ozzie.” But the girl, is named Mumtaz and doesn’t have a nickname, or maybe that is her nickname, either way you can see the problem for yourself, and it’s a bigger problem since she is essentially the main character of the novel.
I’ve read worse books then this, but not this year, not yet at least. If I can find Rising Asia in audio form I’ll still give it a listen, but I’m sure I won’t be biting at the bit to read it like I had been.