Critical Optimism: Facing Today’s Permacrisis with Hope
Award-winning author Mohsin Hamid offers a singular perspective on the permacrisis of today’s increasingly connected world. From permawar, to racism and xenophobia, to technological advancement, Hamid provides a deep analysis of the experience of anxiety and uncertainty, and helps audiences understand our place in this profoundly complex moment.
Leveraging his background in international affairs and consulting, Hamid draws on his gifts as a storyteller to make a case for critical optimism. In the face of continuous crisis, Hamid helps his audience imagine a future beyond the present – and the role we will play in creating a better tomorrow.
Book Talk: The Last White Man
Based on his latest novel The Last White Man, prize-winning author Mohsin Hamid explores identity and destabilization, reimagining Kafka’s iconic The Metamorphosis for our racially charged era. Sought after for his wide-ranging perspective, Hamid’s conversations inspire audiences to think deeply about the global interconnectedness of our lives, politics, and imaginations.
Author Talk: ‘Exit West’ – Migration, Identities, and Global Change
International affairs expert and award-winning author Mohsin Hamid has explored the experience of migration throughout his work, in particular his prescient New York Times Best Book of the Year Exit West. In Exit West, characters migrate to escape civil war in their country, traveling through ‘magical doors’ in a borderless world. In his writing and through-provoking talks, Hamid invites his audience to move beyond the fixation with how people get to a new place – and consider instead what causes people to leave home in the first place? What happens to people when they arrive somewhere new? As technology continues to expand global connectedness, and policy struggles to keep up with shifting global crises, Hamid speaks with clarity about how we define a nation, and what it means to consider some people ‘inside’ and others ‘outside’ those borders.
College & University Audiences: In Conversation with Mohsin Hamid
Award-winning author and international affairs expert Mohsin Hamid is a globally sought-after speaker for college and university audiences, including Princeton University, the University of California at Berkeley, the London School of Economics, and the National University of Singapore, to name a few. Hamid engages student communities in thought-provoking conversations inspired by his internationally acclaimed books (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Exit West, and The Last White Man) – ranging from literature, the arts, and culture, to migration, technology, business, and politics.
Global citizen Mohsin Hamid uses storytelling to understand polarization and cultivate critical optimism
Global citizen MOHSIN HAMID offers a singular perspective on our current age of polarization, and what we can do to cultivate critical optimism instead. Hamid – who is an internationally award-winning author and essayist – views polarization as a failure of imagination. Feeling the pressure of permacrisis and the increasingly binary thinking promoted by technology, people are having difficult imagining a future beyond the complexity of today. Through his acclaimed novels, including Exit West and The Last White Man, Hamid invites his audience to reckon with how we are seeing the present polycrisis, and what it would mean for ourselves, our institutions, and society to imagine something better.
Hamid defines himself as a ‘critical optimist’ – focusing not on how things were, but how they might be. While much of the cultural conversation is focused on nostalgia, and yearning for a presumably ‘better’ past, Hamid urges his audience see the dangers of nostalgia and instead focus on imagining a brighter future. He sees the job of the novelist as the visionary – to imagine this possible future, and to help people feel comfortable and hopeful imagining it for themselves. In thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting conversations, Hamid asks: How can we imagine a future that is better than our past or present?
Mohsin Hamid’s award-winning book ‘Exit West’ continues to drive conversations about migration, identity, and global change
International affairs expert and award-winning author MOHSIN HAMID has explored the experience of migration throughout his work, in particular his prescient New York Times Best Book of the Year Exit West. In Exit West, characters migrate to escape civil war in their country, traveling through ‘magical doors’ in a borderless world. As technology continues to expand global connectedness, and policy struggles to keep up with shifting global crises, Hamid speaks with clarity about how we define a nation, and what it means to consider some people ‘inside’ and others ‘outside’ those borders.
Exit West has received numerous awards since its publication in 2017 – Hamid received the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize; was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award, the Man Booker Prize, the Kirkus Prize, and more, and was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s “10 Best Novels of the Decade” and a New York Times “Best Book of the Year.” Hamid is sought-after globally by prestigious universities, governmental and intergovernmental organizations, and corporate entities to illuminate its themes. Hamid and Exit West continue to drive conversations about migration, identity, and global change, and what this means for individuals, policy, and business.
Author Mohsin Hamid helps college & university audiences understand – and transform – the narratives around identity
Award-winning author and international affairs expert Mohsin Hamid is a globally sought-after speaker for college and university audiences. Hamid engages student communities in thought-provoking conversations inspired by his internationally acclaimed books (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Exit West, and The Last White Man). Through his work and in spellbinding speaking events, Hamid inspires provocative questions – How do we imagine ourselves in the world? How does the world create a narrative for us and about us?
Hamid has lectured around the world, including Princeton University, the University of California at Berkeley, the London School of Economics, and the National University of Singapore, and has taught pro bono at schools and universities in Pakistan. Hamid views the role of a novelist as a visionary – tasked with imagining a future beyond the present crisis, and inspiring others to see their role in creating it. His profound commentaries on borders, migration, and identity, and the impacts of technological advancement and policy, create a vital and wide-reaching conversation with college and university audiences seeking to disrupt and transform the global permacrises that awaits them upon graduation. Hamid’s unique perspective – critical optimism – acknowledges the reality of the past and present while inspiring hope for the future.
Author Mohsin Hamid leverages a background in international affairs and consulting for McKinsey & Wolff Olins for wide-ranging conversations
Internationally bestselling author MOHSIN HAMID has made an indelible contribution to literature as well as the global conversation about the intersection of migration, technology, business, and politics. Beyond his work as a novelist, which includes the recent award-winning and New York Times bestselling The Last White Man, Hamid studied international affairs at Princeton, and law at Harvard. Hamid went on to work as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in New York and at Wolff Olins in London, establishing his position as a substantive commentator on the global polycrisis of this moment and what it means for individuals, citizens, governments, and businesses.
Hamid has been sought to speak at government and intergovernmental organizations including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the U.S. State Department, and at corporate events for firms such as GSV Ventures and Baillie Gifford. With his farsighted and thoughtful perspective, Hamid speaks to the complexity of polycrisis, the age of permawar, and pluralism in a way that helps audiences shape an understanding of the world today, as well as the future we hope to create.
Award-winning author Mohsin Hamid to release his ‘most remarkable work yet’, The Last White Man
Internationally bestselling and prizewinning author MOHSIN HAMID explores identity and profound destabilization in his highly anticipated next novel The Last White Man. In his critically acclaimed and genre-bending prose, called “lyrical and urgent” by O Magazine, the New York Times bestseller “reimagines Kafka’s iconic The Metamorphosis for our racially charged era.” A visionary and innovative storyteller, Hamid weaves universal themes and timeless storytelling with far-reaching geopolitical analysis, uplifting our capacity for empathy and its potential to transcend bigotry, fear, and anger. In his writing as well as his powerful keynotes and conversations, he inspires audiences to think deeply about the global interconnectedness of our lives, politics, and imaginations.
Sought after by groups such as Columbia University, Literary Arts, Inc., the Chicago Humanities Festival, and many more, Hamid shares insights from his life and work in conversations that are profound yet accessible for audiences of all kinds. His upcoming novel The Last White Man has been called “perhaps Hamid’s most remarkable work yet… an extraordinary vision of human possibility,” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar. Named to Foreign Policy’s list of “100 Leading Global Thinkers,” Hamid explores today’s most vital issues with his wide-reaching perspective as a journalist and visionary storyteller.
Watch Mohsin Hamid’s conversation at Politics and Prose >>
Mohsin Hamid was born in 1971 in Lahore. He grew up mostly in Pakistan but spent part of his childhood in California and returned to America to attend Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He then worked in New York and London as a management consultant before returning to Lahore to pursue writing full-time.
He published his first novel, Moth Smoke, in 2000. Structured like a trial, with the reader cast as judge, it told the story of an ex-banker and heroin addict in contemporary Lahore. It became a cult hit, was adapted for television in Pakistan, and was hailed by the New York Review of Books as “one of the first pictures we have of that world,” a new South Asia “taken over by gun-running, drug-trafficking, large-scale industrialism, commercial entrepreneurship, tourism, new money, nightclubs, boutiques.”
His next novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was published in 2007 and recounted a Pakistani man's encounter with an unnamed stranger as he tells of his abandonment of his high-flying life in New York in a time of conflict and mutual suspicion. The Guardian named it one of the books that defined the decade and the BBC selected it as one of the 100 novels that have shaped our world. It became an international bestseller, and was adapted into a film by director Mira Nair, starring Riz Ahmed, Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson, and Kiefer Sutherland.
In 2013 he published his third novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, which was a love story and an exploration of mass-urbanization and global economic transformation -- in the apparent guise of a self-help book. Reviewing it in The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani wrote: “Mr. Hamid reaffirms his place as one of his generation's most inventive and gifted writers.”
His fourth novel, Exit West, published in 2017, investigated the universality of migration through the story of two refugees fleeing a war-torn city in a world where billions of people have begun to travel through inexplicable black doors. It was an international bestseller described by The New Yorker as “instantly canonical.”
Mohsin’s essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, and many other publications. A book collection of his non-fiction writing, Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London was published in 2015.
His writing has been translated into 40 languages and won numerous prizes. He has lectured at dozens of universities around the world, from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale to the London School of Economics and the National University of Singapore. In 2013, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the world's 100 Leading Global Thinkers.