The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - John Zubrzy­cki

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

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