How Do We Face Loss With Dignity?
In his latest work, “The Last White Man,” the award-winning writer Mohsin Hamid imagines a world that is very like our own, with one major exception: On various days, white people wake up to discover that their skin is no longer white. It’s a heavy premise, but one of Hamid’s unique talents as a novelist is his ability to take on the most difficult of topics — racism, migration, loss — with a remarkably light touch. “How do you begin to have these conversations in a way that allows everybody a way in?” Hamid asks at one point in our conversation. “How do you talk about these things in a way that’s open to everyone?” What sets Hamid apart is his capacity to do just that — both in his fiction and in our conversation. We discuss: How Hamid experienced what it was like to lose his whiteness after 9/11 What happens to a society when suddenly we can’t sort ourselves by race The origins of modern humans’ fear of death — and how to overcome it Why Hamid thinks future humans will look back at the idea of borders