The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid

When Anders wakes up one morning to discover that he has changed colour overnight and now has brown skin, his transformation is the beginning of many such changes across town.

At first, there are struggles to accept these changes, especially as some old friends, colleagues and family do not always recognise those who have changed. People are sometimes afraid to go to work or even leave the house. There is violence, riots, unrest.

But what begins as something that deeply disturbs Anders, turns into a book that is mostly quiet, that acknowledges the things that have a greater impact than surface skin colour.

Anders was drifting away from his on and off again girlfriend, Orna. The change brings them closer as he is vulnerable in front of her. 

Anders had a bad relationship with his father and didn’t even know he was sick until he ran to him to escape racist violence. He ends up tending his father in his illness, watching the last white man of the town die.

Of course Anders and the community are forced to face the inherent racism in their town and their families, but face it they do. The radical nature of this book is that the violence doesn’t continue to escalate, instead the radical idea of acceptance is calmly presented as the probable outcome of the disappearance of white people. In the end the new generation don’t care to know about a past in which their relatives were once white.

It’s a surprising and fascinating book that will certainly hit headlines.

I’ll be reviewing The Bitch by Pilar Quintana next.