I waited for How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia to get better, to grow past melodrama and conventional wisdom.
It never did.
Because of that, Mohsin Hamid’s novel seems like it has benefitted more from its “edgy” decision never to name its narrator or place setting, and (dare I say it?) Pakistani author Hamid’s exotic pedigree, than it has its own merits as a work of literature.
“Rising Asia” is the story of a boy who moves from the dusty countryside to a throbbing metropolis and slowly maneuvers up society’s ranks, fully embracing the corruption and unsavoriness that work their way, cavity-like, through life in the city. Along the way, he meets one of those girls (“girls” who are never called “women”) that can only be dreamed up by male fiction authors – beautiful, elusive, and a mooring-post for endless fantasizing.
“Rising Asia” is not bad. It just is not very special. If my plot summary made it sound suspiciously similar to a written version of “Slumdog Millionaire,” that is because that’s what it seemed like to me.