By Mohsin Hamid
Parul Sehgal, New York Times Book Review, March 29, 2014
“How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” begins under a bed. With you — yes, you — under a bed. Once you quit cowering, you’ll be the hero of this novel written in the second person, although there’s nothing remotely heroic about you at the moment; you’re so sick you can scarcely speak. The only remedy at hand is a large white radish, which your mother cooks up in a foul brew.
Courage. You’ll live and what’s more, you’re only seven steps from getting Filthy Rich, according to the narrator. (You’re also nine steps from ruin, but we’ll address that in a minute.) The marriage of these two curiously compatible genres — self-help and the old-fashioned bildungsroman — is just one of the pleasures of Mohsin Hamid’s shrewd and slippery new novel, a rags-to-riches story that works on a head-splitting number of levels. It’s a love story and a study of seismic social change. It parodies a get-rich-quick book and gestures to a new direction for the novel, all in prose so pure and purposeful it passes straight into the bloodstream. It intoxicates.
Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Book Review, June 15, 2012
“A Case of Exploding Mangoes,” Hanif’s first novel, drew favorable comparisons to “Catch-22” — both are stinging sendups of life in the air forces, but the similarities run deeper. Like Joseph Heller, Hanif specializes in a kind of horror and humor joined at the root. Stripped of the slapstick and magic realist special effects, “Alice Bhatti” is a blistering broadside on the socially sanctioned butchery of women and girls in Pakistan. It’s an abecedary of how women are hunted, how they’re choked and chopped up and thrown away. It’s an attempt to understand and render, with varying degrees of success, what life is like under siege from the world’s oldest, most deadly kind of terrorism. “Cutting up women is a sport older than cricket but just as popular and equally full of obscure rituals and intricate rules,” Hanif writes.
Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Book Review, Sept. 16, 2011
Rehan Tabassum is in a bad way. Although, strictly speaking, the trouble isn’t of his making. He’s just got that kind of family — prone to falling in love with the servants, scheming against one another, messing with the wrong fundamentalist and leaving sensitive home videos lying about. The Tabassums, owners of a telecommunications empire in Pakistan, are a brutal, blundering clan grown crooked and strange after years of bending to the will of their autocratic patriarch. Their methods are medieval, but they’re punished for their excesses and brutality in distinctly modern ways: they’re blackmailed via text messages and pilloried in the comments of Internet articles.