An expansive, eye-opening novel that captures the vibrancy of China today Phoebe is a factory girl who has come to Shanghai with the promise of a job--but when she arrives she discovers that the job doesn't exist. Gary is a country boy turned pop star who is spinning out of control. Justin is in Shanghai to expand his family's real estate empire, only to find that he might not be up to the task. He has long harbored a crush on Yinghui, a poetry-loving, left-wing activist who has reinvented herself as a successful Shanghai businesswoman. Yinghui is about to make a deal with the shadowy Walter Chao, the five star billionaire of the novel, who with his secrets and his schemes has a hand in the lives of each of the characters. All bring their dreams and hopes to Shanghai, the shining symbol of the New China, which, like the novel's characters, is constantly in flux and which plays its own fateful role in the lives of its inhabitants. Five Star Billionaire is a dazzling, kaleidoscopic novel that offers rare insight into the booming world of Shanghai, a city of elusive identities and ever-changing skylines, of grand ambitions and outsize dreams. Bursting with energy, contradictions, and the promise of possibility, Tash Aw's remarkable new book is both poignant and comic, exotic and familiar, cutting-edge and classic, suspenseful and yet beautifully unhurried.Praise for Five Star Billionaire "The ambition of the book perfectly reflects its subject. In one scene, we're introduced to a 'folk guitarist whose slangy lyrics spoke of urban migration and loneliness.' Aw might be describing himself, except that his threnodies are set to sophisticated modern jazz."--Pico Iyer, Time"Tash Aw's brilliant new novel focuses on four Malaysian immigrants, all determinedly on the make. . . . The unputdownable story of how these lives interconnect and touch upon the billionaire of the title, a shadowy avenging angel, is played out against the noisy, glitzy backdrop of a society on the cusp between abandoning old values and embracing a lifestyle as flashy as its neon glow."--Daily Mail (UK) "Aw is a master storyteller and Five Star Billionaire can be read as The Way We Live Now for our times. . . . [It is a story] of lives lost and found, of the transience of material success and the courage required to hope and to trust again, to forgive oneself and to believe in the possibility of love."--The Guardian (UK) "An innovative novel of the twenty-first-century immigrant experience . . . a new kind of immigrant novel."--The Telegraph (UK) "Engrossing . . . seductive."--The Observer (UK) "A must-read . . . Exciting plot twists and page-turning drama are aplenty. . . . In the end, the novel has a hopeful tone--when everything appears bleak there's always a silver lining, and you are the only one who can take charge of your own fate."--The Star (Malaysia) "Few people can write about a place with both the astute observation of an outsider and the deep understanding of an insider. When the place is Shanghai, and when that writer is Tash Aw, we get a novel that is as multifaceted as the city itself, in which stories of the old and the new, the rich and the poor, the dreaming and the disillusioned, are woven together by a master storyteller. Tash Aw is an essential voice for the global world we live in today."--Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald GirlFrom the Hardcover edition.
Tash Aw's highly original first novel juxtaposes three accounts of the life of an enigmatic man at a pivotal and haunting moment in Malaysian history.
Set in Malaysia in the 1930s and 40s, with the rumbling of the Second World War in the background and the Japanese about to invade, The Harmony Silk Factory is the story of four people: Johnny, an infamous Chinaman - a salesman, a fraudster, possibly a murderer - whose shop house, The Harmony Silk Factory, he uses as a front for his illegal businesses; Snow Soong, the beautiful daughter of one of the Kinta Valley's most prominent families, who dies giving birth to one of the novel's narrators; Kunichika, a Japanese officer who loves Snow too; and an Englishman, Peter Wormwood, who went to Malaysia like many English but never came back, who also loved Snow to the end of his life. A journey the four of them take into the jungle has a devastating effect on all of them, and brilliantly exposes the cultural tensions of the era. Haunting, highly original, The Harmony Silk Factory is suspenseful to the last page.
From the author of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning The Harmony Silk Factory comes an enthralling new novel that evokes an exotic yet turbulent and often frightening time and place. Map of the Invisible World is the masterly, psychologically rich tale of three lives indelibly marked by the past--their own and Indonesia's. Sixteen-year-old Adam is an orphan three times over. He and his brother, Johan, were abandoned by their mother as children; then Adam watched as Johan was adopted and taken away by a wealthy couple; and now Adam is hiding because Karl, the man who raised him--and who is Dutch but long ago turned his back on the country of his ancestors--has been arrested by soldiers during Sukarno's drive to purge 1960s Indonesia of its colonial past. All Adam has to guide him in his quest to find Karl are some old photos and letters, which send him to the colorful, dangerous capital, Jakarta, and to Margaret, an American whose own past is bound up with Karl's. Soon both have embarked on journeys of discovery that seem destined to turn tragic. Woven hauntingly into this page-turning story is the voice of Johan, who is living a seemingly carefree, privileged life in Malaysia, but one that is careening out of control as he struggles to forget his long-ago betrayal of his helpless, trusting brother. Map of the Invisible World confirms Tash Aw as one of the most exciting young voices on the international literary scene.
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