A Society Without Race as a Social Construct in The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid

The Last White Man

Why I am Excited About This Book!

Mohsin Hamid wowed me with Exit West in 2017 and The Last White Man, out this August follows suit. His use of language and lack of punctuation mesmerizes me in the way that Rafael Nadal does with his rituals before each serve. I find myself staring at the page and re-reading the prose in awe and admiration as the thoughts come together in between commas, line after line. This concise yet wildly innovative book will be perfect for book group discussions!

My Review:

In The Last White Man, one by one, white people are waking up with dark skin and are forced to be in the world looking a certain way that is foreign and uncomfortable. Anders and Oona explore their friendship turned intimate relationship as they change on the outside, endure their parents’ reactions along with the public, face personal fears and adapt. This fantastical idea is thought provoking on many levels. How we feel on the inside and how we are perceived on the outside can be vastly different. Hamid explores the uncomfortable and conflictual emotions of his characters tied to the color of skin, both in themselves and others while challenging our imagination to see the possibility of a future world without race as a social construct.

The Last White Man forces us to increase our capacity for acceptance and stare bigotry and prejudice right in the eye. Not much action happens with the characters in the book as a result of the white people turning dark skinned, other than the way the world may be if judgement and classification based on race were eliminated. The fantasy of skin color having little impact is the point, and that was enough for me to think about this book long after I finished it. I really enjoyed this small and unusual new novel and highly recommend it for book group discussions.

Mohsin Hamid

About the Author:

Mohsin Hamid is the author of four novels, Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and Exit West, and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations.

His writing has 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.

Born in Lahore, he has spent about half his life there and much of the rest in London, New York, and California. 

Book Nation by Jen

3 comments

  1. It sounds really interesting – maybe one day we’ll all be a mid-brown color. That would be wonderful, I think. Though perhaps I should read the book first to see if the author thinks that’s true…

    • The author has been working on this book for 2 decades – since 9/11. He is a brown skinned Muslim who had lived in the US for many years but in an instant things changed for him. He feels “race is a construct; it is brought into existence by our imaginations, and from there it is deployed with real consequences.” I’m not sure he has hopes that we will all be the same color one day, but more like race will have no impact on how we treat each other or how we conceive hierarchy, class, or assign freedoms.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.