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The Harmony Silk Factory (2005)
by Tash Aw
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Having read two Tash Aw books, I doubt I will read another. You feel like throwing in the towel and heave a sign of relief when you finish it. The Harmony Silk Factory started off well but became somewhat bizarre. Why did the group spend so much time on the remote island? They weren't exactly ship-wrecked and the island offered nothing. It is also bewildering how Snow came to fall in love with Peter. That was a curveball from Aw. ( )
It started off engaging but gradually became lukewarm and slowed down. Picked up pace towards the end and it could have been better.
My full review here:
I left this book on a shelf in a hostel in Madrid. I’d read two thirds of it. The setting and period were interesting and I think the story had a good premise, but I never connected to any of the characters.
Story about Johnny Lim, told from the viewpoint of 3 unreliable narrators: his son (or is he?) - Jasper, his wife, Snow Soong, and his supposed best friend, Peter Wormwood. Tash Aw weaves a complex and involving tale set in Malaysia at the outset of WW11, and the invasion by the Japanese. Nothing is as it seems. While engrossing perhaps there are too many loose ends in this first novel by Aw. Nonetheless, a great story.
No rating for this book, because after one week of reading/trying to read I didn't get any further than page 27.
It doesn't grab me, I'm not interested in the story, so I quit now.
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (1)
A brilliant novel from a genuinely exciting new voice in British fiction. A novel for anyone who enjoyed The English Patient.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. It will be one of the most talked about and admired novels of 2005.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813 — Literature English (North America) American fiction
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