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230 pages, Hardcover
First published March 1, 2013
”…when you read a book, what you see are black squiggles on pulped wood or, increasingly, dark pixels on a pale screen. To transform these icons into characters and events, you must imagine. And when you imagine, you create. It’s in being read that a book becomes a book…”
”Your city is enormous, home to more people than half the countries in the world, to whom every few weeks is added a population equivalent to that of a small, sandy-beached tropical island republic…A limited access road is under construction around the place, forming a belt past which its urban belly is already beginning to bulge…Your bus barrels along in the shadow of these monuments, dusty new arteries feeding this city, which despite its immensity is only one among many such organs quivering in the torso of rising Asia.”
“You have used the contacts with retailers you forged during your years as a non-expired-labeled expired-goods salesman to enter the bottled-water trade. Your city’s neglected pipes are cracking, the contents of underground water mains and sewers mingling, with the result that taps in locales rich and poor alike disgorge liquids that, while for the most part clear and often odorless, reliably contain trace levels of feces and microorganisms capable of causing diarrhea, hepatitis, dysentery, and typhoid. Those less well-off among the citizenry harden their immune systems by drinking freely, sometimes suffering losses in the process, especially of their young and their frail. Those more well-off have switched to bottled water, which you and your two employees are eager to provide.”
“…Meeting with a keen young repairman arrived to fix your telephone connection, or speaking with a knowledgeable young woman behind the counter of a pharmacy, you are pricked by a lingering optimism, and you marvel at the resilience and potential of those around you, particularly of the youth in this city, in this, the era of cities, bound by its airport and fiber-optic cables to every great metropolis, collectively forming, even if tenuously, a change-scented urban archipelago spanning not just rising Asia but the entire planet…But what you [also] sense, what is unmistakable, is a rising tide of frustration and anger and violence, born partly of the greater familiarity the poor today have with the rich, their faces pressed to that clear window on wealth afforded by ubiquitous television, and partly the change in mentality that results from the outward shift in the supply curve for firearms.”
“As you create this story and I create this story, I would like to ask you how things were. I would like to ask you about the person who held your hand when dust entered your eye or ran with you from the rain. I would like to tarry here awhile with you, or if tarrying is impossible, to transcend my here, with your permission, in your creation, so tantalizing to me, and so unknown. That I can do this doesn’t stop me from imagining it. And how strange that when I imagine, I feel. The capacity for empathy is a funny thing.”
Is getting filthy rich still your goal above all goals, your be-all and end-all, the mist-shrouded high-altitude spawning pond to your inner salmon?And beautiful—
He whispers a benediction and breathes it into the air, spreading his hopes for you with a contraction of the lungs.He uses lots of appositives to pack complex asides into otherwise short and simple sentences. It’s masterful, simply some of the best writing I’ve ever read.
…When you read a book, what you see are black squiggles on pulped wood or, increasingly, dark pixels on a pale screen. To transform these icons into characters and events, you must imagine. And when you imagine, you create. It’s in being read that a book becomes a book, and in each of a million different readings a book becomes one of a million different books, just as an egg becomes one of potentially a million different people when it’s approached by a hard-swimming and frisky school of sperm.I do. He just gets it. He profoundly understands the importance of stories to our every day lives:
We are all refugees from our childhoods. And so we turn, among other things, to stories. To write a story, to read a story, is to be a refugee from the state of refugees. 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.He accomplishes so much in so few pages, poking the most thoughtful parts of my brain and pushing me to change the way I approach life. Before reading How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia I would see all the people around me and feel crushed that their stories will never be told, that upon death their stories will dissipate into the air like the morning dew rising from their graves. Mohsin Hamid reminded me that everyone has a story that should be remembered. He made me want to travel the world with a butterfly net collecting stories so that peoples’ lives—peoples’ immense and tragic and brilliant lives—do not die with them. He made me realize that empathy is not only the fruitful consequence of good literature but also the motor of the human spirit.
”¿Por qué, por ejemplo, te empeñas en leer esa novela extranjera tan alabada y tan increíblemente aburrida, y avanzas a duras penas a través de páginas y más páginas (por favor, que se acaben) de una prosa alquitranada y morosa y de un engreimiento formal que te hace sonrojarte, sino movido por un anhelo impulsivo de conocer tierras lejanas que, a causa de la globalización, cada día afectan más la vida de la tierra donde habitas? ¿Qué es ese impulso tuyo, en el fondo, sino un deseo de autoayuda? “
"It is the first visit in many years for your son, finally a citizen of his new country and free to travel, and you try to suppress your undercurrent of resentment at his decision to absent himself from your presence in so devastatingly severe a manner. 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."