I can’t exactly remember when I read this book, but I think it was a few months ago – maybe September? I hope I’ll keep better track of my books next year. So this book review is going to be a short one.
Basically, I bought this book because it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and I thought it sounded interesting. It is, I think, in the genre of the “rising Asia” novel – there are a few of these that explore hope and success and failure in the rapidly changing countries in East Asian, in this case particularly in Malaysia and China. I thought this book was pretty good. I didn’t come to really care a lot about the characters, but the book’s plot seemed fairly interesting and it explored in a nuanced way the ups and downs of rapid change and youth in those societies.
According to his bio on the Booker page, Tash Aw was born to Malaysian parents in Taipei, and I thought that one perspective this book really does well with is the phenomenon of so many people in Asia going to China to make their fortune (there are some Malaysian characters in this). So it was definitely interesting, but maybe not “big” and important in the ways that some of the other Booker nominees were – although if I am honest I have only read 1 of the short list (the Ruth Ozeki book, which I reviewed here).
So I’ll give it a 3 on Goodreads.
“I guess it is because we all want to live in hope rather than in despair, even when despair is all that we have – all that we are entitled to.” (288)
“We are conditioned by our times and the petty pressures of the world we live in to hang on to certain images and feelings, things that are ultimately trivial.” (396)