The Last White Man – a hypnotic race fable

Guy Gunartne in The Guardian:

“One morning Anders, a white man, woke up to find he had turned a deep and undeniable brown.” So begins Mohsin Hamid’s inventive new novel, The Last White Man. Anders, as it turns out, is not an isolated case. More people in an unnamed town begin to change, including Oona, a yoga instructor and a friend of Anders. Violence inevitably erupts around them. White vigilante gangs terrorise the transformed, while some doggedly refuse to accept an end to whiteness. At its heart, this is a novel about seeing, being seen, loss and letting go. The loss of privilege that comes from being perceived as white, and no longer being able to view the world from within whiteness, are some of the anxieties examined here.

The immediacy of the novel’s opening may evoke Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, but Hamid’s prose style is much more akin to José Saramago. His often paragraph-long sentences are set to an unbroken rhythm. At times, it reads like a parable. We move briskly from hypnotic early depictions of social rupture to the tenderness of the closing stages. Hamid’s decision to foreground the themes of loss and mourning allows the novel to speak most incisively to the condition of whiteness itself.

More here.