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The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid

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The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid
UK Publication: August 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Penguin General UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Is the world ever truly black or white…

Synopsis from Goodreads: From the New York Times bestselling author of Exit West, a story of love, loss, and rediscovery in a time of unsettling change

One morning, Anders wakes to find that his skin has turned dark, his reflection a stranger to him. At first he tells only Oona, an old friend, newly a lover. Soon, reports of similar occurrences surface across the land. Some see in the transformations the long-dreaded overturning of an established order, to be resisted to a bitter end. In many, like Anders’s father and Oona’s mother, a sense of profound loss wars with profound love. As the bond between Anders and Oona deepens, change takes on a different shading: a chance to see one another, face to face, anew.

Hamid’s The Last White Man invites us to envision a future – our future – that dares to reimagine who we think we are, and how we might yet be together.

My Thoughts: Well this was certainly a weird one to read.

Rather like Kafka’s Metamorphoses the narrator is at first horrified to find his body changed overnight however as the book progresses he and society come to accept that this is the new normal.

The book appears to be set in what is a primarily white town, the only black person mentioned (who wasn’t white to start) is the cleaner at the gym where Anders works. When he becomes “dark” Anders considers befriending this man only to find that it is a wage rise and not friendship the cleaner wants.

There is a lot of social commentary going on in this one from the fact that previously white people feel they are treated differently, behave differently and are on the whole fearful of those who have remained white and those who were always “dark”, in essence they feel they don’t belong anywhere.  Some white people commit suicide upon turning “dark” a damning comment about how they view society will treat them. The idea that the white “dark” people are at a disadvantage because they can’t tell who is like them and who has always been “dark” while the “dark” people have the advantage of knowing.

Obviously there is a certain level of civil unrest inspired by this transformation as well as the forming of us and them (which becomes harder to maintain when us becomes them) divisions however by the end of the book the older generation in the form of parents have been won over against prejudice because it is their children they are seeing and the younger generation no longer need to be colour blind because they are all the same, society seems to be getting over the idea of race and finally accepting the idea of human.

Who would like this? If you like fiction that packs a punch and is weird and out there go for it.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hmm. Not for me. I live in a country obsessed with and be-devilled by, colour.

    Like

    August 14, 2022
  2. Remedial Stitcher #

    I have this on my list.

    Like

    August 14, 2022
  3. I just finished reading it yesterday and found it to be not only insightful about our divided times and our primitive tribal tendencies but also quite tender.making it even a better read is how it was written in a poetic, flowing manner.

    Like

    August 17, 2022

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