From time to time someone posts a complaint about Michiko Kakutani's wooden prose, overuse of the word "limn," and general slackness one might expect in someone who has had the same job since 1983. Good criticism should be lifted by the quality of its subject matter, yet after reading hundreds if not thousands of novels Kakutani's prose remains as pedestrian as a business columnist's.
However, her taste has to be respected if only because of the breadth of her reading. I read Hamid's novel after reading her review and found it to be one of the best novels I read this year. I actually liked it better than George Saunders' Tenth of December, which is on many best-of lists, including Kakutani's.
Anyway, I would second her recommendation of Hamid's novel as one of the best of the year.
HOW TO GET FILTHY RICH IN RISING ASIA by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books). Though this book is not the chilling tour de force that Mr. Hamid’s 2007 novel “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” was, it remains a showcase for its author’s audacious talents. Set in an unnamed country that resembles Pakistan and couched in the form of a self-help manual, this inventive novel recounts the 70-odd-year life of an unnamed hero who journeys from an impoverished village to a sprawling city and who makes — and loses — a fortune in the water (“bottled hydration”) business. It’s both an affecting and highly specific tale of love and ambition, and a larger metaphorical look at the startling social and economic changes that are sweeping through “rising Asia” and changing the lives of millions along the way.