'The Last White Man' is a fever dream of a story

Mohsin Hamid’s novel is a fever dream of a story

“The Last White Man,” a novel by Moshin Hamid. (Riverhead Books)

Anders wakes up to find he’s no longer white. After confiding in his friend, Oona, the two discover this is not an isolated case; all over town and beyond, white people are finding their skin suddenly turning dark.

“The Last White Man,” Mohsin Hamid’s fifth novel, follows the experiences of Anders and Oona as their perceptions change along with their appearances.

They’re ordinary people with unexceptional jobs living unremarkable lives until the unexplained darkening of white peoples’ skin turns society on its head. Reminiscent of the real, pandemic-battered world, the mysterious change spurs panicked tribalism and manic internet conspiracy theories.

The sudden loss of whiteness harkens back to Hamid’s own experience as a Pakistan-born man who was seen and treated differently post-9/11, despite having lived over half his life at that point in the West.

The story is told in a third-person limited point of view that flips between Anders and Oona, sometimes migrating to Oona’s mom or Anders’ dad, who become important characters aiding broader conversations by presenting outlooks from both sides of a generational divide.

But occasionally the narration slips from “he” and “she” pronouns to “us” and “them,” accentuating a growing societal divide and disarming the reader with its jarring accusation of “you.”

Hamid takes his penchant for long, stream-of-consciousness sentences and cranks it up to 10. These sentences that stretch for days, overflowing with clauses and fragments, hurl readers along a whirlwind of thoughts.

Like Don Hertzfeldt’s animated existential absurdist movie “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” Hamid’s latest novel basks in long-winded streams of narration that sometimes end in such lackluster ideas – for example: the omelets were OK – that it’s hard to imagine a moment ago we were chin-deep in a metaphor about death and philosophical musings on the when, how and inevitability of it.

If that sentence was hard to follow, buckle up. You’re in for far longer in “The Last White Man,” though the occasional need to re-read a paragraph-long sentence is well worth the ride.

Grandeur and mundanity swirl into a fever dream of a story in which days and weeks slip by without any sure marks of time. The overall effect is a light fuzziness that makes any topic approachable, but makes everything hard to fully grasp and focus on.

Less than 200 pages, “The Last White Man” is a quick read. The novel ramps down gently before ending abruptly, leaving a vague, conflicting sense of both satisfaction and unease.

‘The Last White Man’

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Mohsin Hamid’s novel is a fever dream of a story

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Two summer programs return to NM Museum of Natural ...
ABQnews Seeker
why not? The New Mexico Museum ... why not? The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science is returning two of its popular programs — Mineral Mondays and Relaxed Nights. ...
‘We Spread’ explores what it means to grow old
ABQnews Seeker
"We Spread" is a taut novel ... "We Spread" is a taut novel packed with mysteries, starting with the title and a front cover design ...
Annual exhibit boasts layers of pastels with 'Enchanted Colors'
ABQnews Seeker
The New Mexico Pastel Society's annual ... The New Mexico Pastel Society's annual exhibition encompasses 73 works at the Millicent Rogers Museum, augmented by an additional 40 online.
Festival to put on free shows of two of ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The Comedy of Errors" and "A ... "The Comedy of Errors" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" run from June 9 through July 8 and admission is free.
No jest, Upstart Crows to perform 'King Lear'
ABQnews Seeker
"King Lear" will be performed by ... "King Lear" will be performed by two casts; a total of 28 actors. One is entirely comprised of young Shakespearian actors; the other is ...
Chatter concert to feature rare instruments
ABQnews Seeker
The American Gamelan, which became nicknamed ... The American Gamelan, which became nicknamed 'Old Granddad,' is a set of highly resonant instruments consisting of tuned metal pipes and aluminum keys.
Popejoy bringing the best of Broadway and beyond to ...
ABQnews Seeker
The 2023-2024 Broadway in New Mexico ... The 2023-2024 Broadway in New Mexico series will see the return of "Disney's The Lion King," as well as the classic "My Fair Lady," ...
One ABQ park shares its tenacity and name with ...
ABQnews Seeker
An Albuquerque park and surrounding neighborhood ... An Albuquerque park and surrounding neighborhood were named for Oklahoma native Patrick Jay Hurley, an attorney who served as secretary of war for President ...
And for your second wish ...?
ABQnews Seeker
"Aladdin" begins its seven-performance run to ... "Aladdin" begins its seven-performance run to Popejoy Hall beginning Wednesday, June 7.