LOVE, IF IT COMES, IS ACCIDENTAL, HURRIEDLY CONSUMMATED . . . IN A TACKY HOTEL
have to pay get bigger and, as the stakes get higher, your enemies show no mercy in their attempts to bring you down.
Rising Asia is also a lonely place. Love, if it comes, is accidental, hurriedly consummated at night on the rooftop of an apartment block — privacy is unknown — or in a tacky hotel room. Love also interferes with getting filthy rich as it ‘‘ dampens the fire in the steamfurnace of ambition’’. When Hamid’s protagonist falls in love with ‘‘ pretty girl’’, an aspiring model and actor, he refuses to let it interfere with his fixation on making it big.
The relationship between the two remains tantilisingly remote, but it introduces a respite from an otherwise predatory world of wealth accumulation. Beautifully woven into the narrative, this understated but moving love story is a reminder that happiness cannot be found by following a 12-point plan.
If books ever needed warning notices, this might be one of them. Hamid’s intoxicating prose will upend most people’s notions of Asia’s poverty and prosperity. This is the Asia of tomorrow that we missed seeing when it arrived on our doorstep years ago. It is a story we cannot afford to ignore.
Left out of the Asian dream. Two girls sit by the doorway of their home in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad