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Pao: A Novel by Kerry Young
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Pao: A Novel (edition 2011)

by Kerry Young

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10429173,903 (3.57)37
Member:sangreal
Title:Pao: A Novel
Authors:Kerry Young
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2011), Edition: Original, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:To read, Ebooks, Kindle - bought or free
Rating:
Tags:historical fiction, e-book, free, unread

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Pao: A Novel by Kerry Young

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» See also 37 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I snagged this book last year as a LTER. I attempted to read it when I first got it, but wasn't engaged and had to put it down. This attempt was successful, however. I found the dynamic between cultures interesting: Jamaican vs Chinese, arranged marriage vs brothel mistress, tradition vs politics, hard work vs power. At times the novel seemed to drag with mob-like activities and historical information. Overall, I thought it was an okay book, but at times I did enjoy the reading experience. ( )
  lyzrdpye | Oct 18, 2012 |
Pao is a novel about the Chinese community living in Jamaica. Pao's life is far from easy. Each day brings change. The changes not only happen to Pao and his community but to the whole of Jamaica. Pao is a paid protector of mainly the brothels where he lives. The madame pays him to protect the girls who work for her. In our time I guess Pao would be called a gangster. He knows the hard men in the neighborhood, men with no hearts whatsoever. Pao is able to deal with people of different stripes. He is an all around person.

Pao is a good man. However, he will do whatever is needed, whether illegal or not, to get what he wants. I had trouble with the character, Pao. To me he seemed too gentle, too good to live the life of a gangster. Who wants to end up really liking a gangster hero? So my mind was always divided about Pao. He was like a butterfly. I had trouble pinning him down in my mind. Perhaps, all of us are as complex as Pao.Maybe Kerry Young shines as an author because he made me feel so many different ways about Pao.

I especially was drawn to Pao when he began to have troubles with his family. His wife, Fay, steals away his children whom he loves with all of his heart. She takes them all the way to England from Jamaica. Pao does done all within his power to protect his children from her scheming mind and hands. I suppose this is when Pao realized he was fallible as a man. He's not strong enough or cunning enough to protect what's closest to his heart.

Now that I think of it this novel's basic theme is about protection. Not only the protection of children involved in a bad marriage but the protection of a place, Jamaica. Jamaicans, the Chinese, the Indians, all have the deep desire to protect their world from the hands of a foreign power like Britain. When a place becomes colonized it loses its face, its individuality and becomes the twin of the conquering power. So all affected want to "protect" their customs and their freedom. People become willing to fight a revolution in order to bring back the world as they knew it.

So Pao by KERRY YOUNG is about the ability to hold together a world that is falling apart in so many different ways. I had to think about how many different ways my world has or is falling apart. Do I realize how often my thoughts are about protecting family, country, friends, etc.? I also liked the fact that the author used a man losing his children and not a woman. So often there is the thought that only women love children in the family deeply. I was reminded that men have that maternal heart too. Pao's heart breaks in half when his children are taken from him.The words he speaks during this time made me want to cry. I wanted to help him. Wanted to see his children back with him again.One thing for sure is we aren't really different. Mankind cries, laughs and loves over the same things in life. I once heard someone write or say 'we are more the same than we are different.' Is it true? kerryyoung.co.uk
I do want to end with Ms. Kerry Young's words."Han Suyin once wrote that we Chinese are history-minded. And as the world knows, we Jamaicans are politics-minded. Perhaps it is no surprise, therefore, that this book, my first work of fiction, should turn out to be a political history." ( )
  Tea58 | Sep 25, 2012 |
This was another serendipitous find - having finished the book I was reading and not having my Kindle to hand i needed something to read on the journey home, and picked this up by chance as it was on special offer in Waterston'es at Trafalgar Square.
It proved to be an intriguing debut novel from Kerry Young following the life of Philip "Pao" Yang who at the age of 14 flees from China in 1938 following his father's death. He and his mother come to live with his "uncle" Zhang who has already established a robust protection network within the burgeoning Chinese community in Kingston, Jamaica. Zhang is a committed adherent of Mao Zedong, and brings the young Pao up to believe in the necessity to display social responsibility, though this guidance is bolstered with immersion in the teachings of Sun Tzu.
Pao grows up learning the ropes of protection, benefiting from the steady source of income but never forgetting the responsibility to help his "clients" when necessary. He falls in love with Gloria, a beautiful prostitute, though he marries Fay Wong, daughter of another senior figure within the Chinese community.
The novel gives an interesting insight into Jamaican history (a subject about which I knew precisely nothing). Pao, despite his criminal activities, is essentially a very sympathetic character, and he takes great care of all of the people with whom he has any extended dealings.
Very different to my normal reading material, but very enjoyable, too. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Jun 9, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I tried to read this one, I really did, but I just couldn't get into it. I've been holding onto it for months in hopes that the next time I pick it up I will find it more interesting. After several failed attempts I am calling it quits.
  akreese | Mar 27, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was so thrilled to learn I had snagged this in the Early Reviewers program!!!..in fact, I had never been so thrilled to snag one before!!! I wish I could say that Pao was as awesome a read as I thought it would be!!

I was immediately dismayed to discover that this was written in the vernacular, Pao's words on the page "sounding" like they would if he were speaking to me in person, Jamaican accent and all. Normally this drives me craaaaaaaazy, but I didn't find it too distracting in Pao, thankfully...though I don't know if it really added as much to the experience as the author obviously intended, either.

As for Pao himself, in order for me to really get emotionally invested in a book (and thus, get full enjoyment out of my reading experience) I usually have to engage with the main character, and I just didn't get that connection with Pao. The experience left me feeling like I was simply reading about someone's life.

As other reviewers mentioned, the depiction of Jamaica from a Chinese immigrant point of view was interesting and unique, and I feel like I learned a lot about that experience from this novel, especially given that Jamaica = beach vacay to me! :-) I just feel that, if the novel had only covered a few years of Pao's life perhaps, it could've been a much richer...deeper?..more engaging story. As it were, it tried to cover too much, too long a time period, in too short a novel. ( )
  tsaj | Jan 27, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Young settles mostly for observation and head-scratching quizzicality rather than outright dogma and rhetoric, so her themes slip under your skin rather than slap you in the face. All this, and with an island charm to its colour and language, Pao is compelling, and unlike anything I've read in a long while.
 
The complexity of Jamaican society in Pao is fascinating and bewildering, not only racially but on the religious level too.
added by lkernagh | editThe Guardian, Stevie Davies (Sep 23, 2011)
 
Young, the daughter of a Chinese father and a mother of mixed Chinese-African heritage, came to Britain in 1965 at the age of 10. Pao, her zingy first novel, lovingly recreates the Jamaican-Chinese world of her childhood, with its betting parlours, laundries, fortune-telling shops, supermarkets and (business being a hard game in Jamaica) gang warfare.

Along the way, Young provides a micro-history of Jamaica from its independence in 1962 to the present day. In 1965, dreadfully, Chinese properties were set ablaze in Kingston and the owners even "chopped" with machetes.

Poignantly, Pao celebrates a vanished world. Jamaica's Chinatown disappeared when Kingston railway station closed in the early 1990s. Few Chinese businesses operate there now; the old shops are boarded up or else serve as crack dens. Pao, meanwhile, confirms Young as a gifted new writer. Her novel is a blindingly good read in parts, both for its mesmeric story-telling and the quality of its prose.
added by kidzdoc | editThe Observer, Ian Thompson (Jul 3, 2011)
 
Kerry Young's energetic debut novel is a pacy but absorbing saga of domestic struggle and gangland manoeuvring set against the violent backdrop of postwar Jamaican politics.

The plot revolves around the fortunes of the family that controls Kingston's Chinatown, and seems to have absorbed plenty of colour and texture from Young's own mixed-heritage upbringing in Kingston.
 
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Epigraph
People 'make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past'.

Karl Marx
Dedication
For my father, Alfred Anthony Young (1924-69).

My mother, Joyce Young.

And Jamaica, land we love.
First words
Me and the boys was sitting in the shop talking 'bout how good business was and how we need to go hire up some help and that is when she show up.
Quotations
The other thing that strike me 'bout the way Jamaica changing is how everybody start talking 'bout Africa. Is like we 'Out of Many', but the 'One People' seem to be just the Africans. Is Africa this and Africa that. Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie. And ever since the world discover Bob Marley, everything turn to Rasta and reggae. It like they think the only true Jamaican is a African. Like they forget that the original Jamaican was the Arawak Indian and after the Spanish and the British get through murdering all of them we was all imports. Every last one of us. But it no matter, all I see and hear everyday now is how we got to get back to Africa.
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As a boy, Pao came to Jamaica with his mother and brother in the wake of the Chinese Civil War. Pao becomes a powerful man, but he's not a typical crime boss. He is sensitive at heart and guided by the principles 0f Sun Tzu's Art of War, even though , as he discovers, the wisdom of the ancient Chinese sage can be tough to interpret when applied to the criminal annd predicament he faces.… (more)

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