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Events Mon Mar 10 2014
Wrapped in the guise of a self-help book, New York Times best-selling author Mohsin Hamid's latest novel How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia follows the rise of one man from utter poverty to vast fortune. The only twist is, that one man -- the nameless protagonist -- is you.
One of the rare novels to tackle second person narration, Hamid's text harnesses the latest life-hacking trend to turn how-to on its head. "Don't Fall in Love," one chapter begins; "Be Prepared to Use Violence." These guidelines build an arresting tension between format and content. Hamid cleverly injects a precarious and tumultuous life with certainty and determinism: you are, after all, only following the rules. Hamid's writing operates on the same plane of crisp certainty, to a point so factual you feel as though you could crack the sentences in half. He writes with the vise-tight confidence necessary to pin down the accusing, assuming "you."
"Look," the novel begins, "unless you're writing one, a self-help book is an oxymoron. You read a self-help book so someone who isn't yourself can help you, that someone being the author." If you're seeking the guidance of a self-help author, you may want to drop into First United Methodist Church (77 W. Washington St.) this Tuesday, March 11, where the Chicago Humanities Festival will be hosting Hamid in a discussion with WBEZ's Alison Cuddy. Tickets for the 6 pm talk are $15 for the general public, $10 for CHF members, and $5 for students; copies of Filthy Rich will also be available at a 10% discount, thanks to a partnership with Unabridged Bookstore. Sit in on the talk, or pick up a copy and try out the author's Get-Rich-Slow scheme for yourself!