This week I’ve firmly shelved my World Book Night reading challenge (just temporarily) and I’m absolutely loving it! It feels so good to read books I’ve chosen myself, because they look beautiful or I’ve heard good things about them, and not feel guilty about it.
In that spirit, I’ve flown through How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, which I picked up in Waterstone’s last week.
It’s unconventionally structured in the form of a self help book, addressing the reader as ‘you’ and positioning them as the main character, which leads to quite an intimate relationship between the reader and the author. At the same time, though, the story has a very anonymous feel to it because the setting and all the characters remain nameless. It’s hard to describe the disorienting effect when I first realised this (I hadn’t read any reviews) but it was very effective – I had to think of the characters in the same way they were described (your wife, your business partner), meaning that it drew me into the story even further. It’s like a game or one of those books where you select multiple choice answers to move through the narrative.
The book follows your life along its rollercoaster path, taking in your birth in a one room hut in a rural village, your first business, your marriage, your years at the top of your game in the water industry. Throughout your life your surroundings, your attitudes and your family constantly change; the only constant is the pretty girl you took a shine to as a teenager. She’s the person your narrative hangs upon, who keeps your story together and moving forward, making this as much a love story as anything else. The scenes where you meet the pretty girl are so sweet, and contrast sharply with your seedy business life to create a life story that’s foreign and familiar in equal, generous measures.
I had expected great things from this after The Reluctant Fundamentalist and I can’t say I was disappointed at all. This is a captivating story, masterfully told.