I’ve read a number of Hamid’s books, only missing the first one, Moth Smoke. Hamid is originally from Pakistan, lived briefly in the US as a youth, returned to Pakistan and then back to the US for advanced education. He lives in both places now writing terrific and award-winning novels.
The Last White Man
by Mohsin Hamid
Read by author 3h 5m
Rating: 9 / experimental fiction
The Last White Man is not quite up to what I’ve come to expect from Hamid, but I suppose it’s an interesting idea and certainly well enough written. At only188 pages, it’s a really low-key novella. But maybe I really didn’t understand it. It’s an allegory, right? but in spite of the opening lines, Hamid isn’t Kafka. Maybe it’s an allegory of what is important to people. Skin color is right now, judging by attitudes, but if all white people turned brown the importance would eventually fade, although remembered by some older people. The way we honor our parents and family would travel well, right along with many other changes. Fear would be there – fear and isolation due to change (think Covid-19). Aging and death would be with us.
So feeling like I was missing something I just now read the review in the New York Times. My goodness – I guess I did “get it,” kind of, but there’s a lot more and I don’t really want to read it again. What if literature were written without the sex, violence, chase scenes, etc? David Gates, the author of The NY Times piece, certainly thinks it can be done, but he’s not terribly enthusiastic about the “nothing really happens” goal of fiction. I’ve increased my rating slightly. 🙂
I wasn’t overly impressed with this one, I felt that it didn’t really go anywhere or explore the ramifications of the situation in depth.
Yup – I loved Exit West and The Reluctant Fundamentalist but this isn’t them. What if the books on the shelves were mostly about nothing happening? Everyone turning brown was the last thing which reallyhappened and in the end it didn’t really matter much.
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