Posts Tagged ‘Mohsin Hamid’

‘The Last White Man’ by Mohsin Hamid – “What If?”

 

‘The Last White Man’ by Mohsin Hamid (2022) – 180 pages

 

‘The Last White Man’ is what I call a “What If?” novel. Perhaps the official name for it would be an allegorical novel.

The premise of this novel is stated clearly in the very first sentence:

One morning Anders, a white man, woke up to find he had turned a deep and undeniable brown.”

What if the skin of some of the white people in a town started to turn brown overnight? A provocative question.

A few days after Anders’ skin turned brown, he contemplates committing suicide with the rifle he bought to protect himself from the white militants who have now taken to the streets. The bodies of a number of brown people have been found in fields. However Anders finds his desire to live is too great.

It was there, fierce, and so he dressed as warmly as he could, and kept himself fed, and he read and he exercised and waited in his brown skin through those solitary days for what would come next.”

We are there with Anders and his girlfriend Oona as all the white people in this town gradually transition from white skin to brown skin. How will their families react? And what about those who already had dark skin? Will they accept the ones who have just turned dark?

Not many writers are skillful enough to write believable simple allegories. Jose Saramago in ‘Blindness’ and Kazuo Ishiguro in ‘Never Let Me Go’ come to mind. The thought provoking scenario in ‘The Last White Man’ is handled very deftly.

The short novels of British-Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid have been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as winner or finalist of twenty awards, and translated into thirty-five languages. Mohsin Hamid can now be considered a superstar in the land of fiction which seems quite an amazing feat. By all means, read some of his work.

 

Grade:    A

 

 

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