Shelf Life: Mohsin Hamid

Welcome to Shelf Life,’s books column, wherein authors share their most memorable reads. Whether you’re on the hunt for a book to console you, move you profoundly, or make you laugh, consider a advice from the writers in our series, who, such as you (because you’re here), love books. Perhaps certainly one of their favorite titles will turn out to be certainly one of yours, too.

Mohsin Hamid says his fifth novel, The Last White Man (Riverhead), a few man who wakes up one morning with darker skin, has been gestating since 9/11, when he—born in Pakistan and until then educated mostly within the U.S. and employed within the U.K.—began being treated with suspicion and fear.

Now based in Lahore, the internationally bestselling writer is a two-time Booker Prize finalist for 2007’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, whose film adaptation was directed by Mira Nair and featured Kate Hudson and Riz Ahmed, and 2017’s Exit West, which is being adapted by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions and again starring Ahmed for Netflix. (The 2 discussed migration on the London Literature Festival). Originally called All Migrants Through Time, Exit West, a few couple transported anywhere on this planet by walking through a black door, was also a Dayton Literary Peace Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, given to incoming freshmen at UC Berkeley as a summer read, and chosen by the Chicago Public Library for One Book, One Chicago.

After Princeton—where he was a student of Toni Morrison, who critiqued what would turn out to be his first novel, Moth Smoke—and Harvard law, Hamid worked as a company lawyer, management consultant, and chief storyteller at a creative consultancy. He reads his work aloud as a part of his editing process, walks 90 minutes a day, is married to a restaurateur, and likes the Greek islands of Naxos and Santorini, the art of Shahzia Sikander, and atlases as a child. Slip into latest worlds along with his recs below.

The book that:

…helped me through a loss:

I left California for Pakistan on the age of nine and never lived there again, and it wasn’t until I read Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem 30 years later that I actually realized how much I still missed the place and the way much of me was still there.

…kept me up way too late:

James Baldwin’s One other Country, which begins with probably the perfect writing, sentence for sentence, that I even have ever read, and made me think, rattling, it’s possible to do that.

…I like to recommend over and once more:

Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi, an exquisitely small masterpiece of a novel, which does a lot, and which too many individuals haven’t read but should.

…shaped my worldview:

After I was in highschool in Lahore and about to go off to varsity in America, I read No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe, the story of a young Nigerian man educated in England who returns to Nigeria, and I even have considered it many times, ever since.

…I’d gift to a latest graduate:

At that age you’re able to have your mind blown and Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges will do it.

…made me laugh out loud:

Nabokov could be very, very funny, and for me Pale Fire is his funniest.

…broke my heart:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. What can I say? When you read it as a baby and it didn’t break yours, you’re much harder than I’m.

…describes a spot I’d wish to visit:

Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man, which might take me to the Lahore of my grandparents, before it modified irrevocably.

…needs to be on every college syllabus:

The Epic of Gilgamesh. When you’re going to read literature, it is smart to begin originally.

…I consider literary comfort food:

Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, since it is.

…I might have blurbed if asked:

The hymns of Enheduanna, because she was the primary named writer in human history, over 4,000 years ago, and so after I called her groundbreaking, nobody would have argued with me.

…sealed a friendship:

Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, which I gave to my wife on our second date, expecting we might not see one another again.

…I’d want signed by the writer:

Beloved, by Toni Morrison, because after I was a student she caught me with a replica of Jazz, which I used to be devouring, and he or she signed it but said, “Read Beloved, it’s good,” and so I did, and, well, you don’t need me to let you know this, but: it really, really was.

Riza Cruz is an editor and author based in Latest York.

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