Many China-related novels in English are not really a great contribution to literature, but fellow author Zhang Lijia had to finish Karen Ma’s debut novel Excess Baggage
in one day, she explains on her weblog.
It is a book written with energy, heart and insight. No doubt that the author’s own experience – a Chinese growing up in Hong Kong and Japan – lends the authenticity to the writing. She knows the subtle differences between oolong and jasmine tea and their indications and the difference in gift-giving in Chinese and Japanese culture.
Pei, who has a little more prominent role in the book, is a bitter and angry woman who is left behind by her family in the early 60’s thanks to an immigrant rule. As she desperately tries to make something of herself in Japan, chopping vegetables in a restaurant, working as a hostess at a seedy night club and studying fashion design in a hope of setting up a business, we readers feel her pain and struggle. This is one of the rare books that gives the harsh Chinese money grabbers a human face.
I finished the book last night at 3 am. I just had to keep going.
Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.
Are the cyber wars a new cold war in a new coat?, the China Weekly Hangout asked end June media lecturer Paul Fox from HKU, security consultant Mathew Hoover from Hong Kong and China-Africa scholar Winslow Robertson from Washington DC. Moderation by Fons Tuinstra, of the China Speakers Bureau, from Lausanne, Switzerland
On July 1 Hong Kong will see the annual march against Beijing rule. The China Weekly Hangout will examine on Thursday July 4 the turnout, and how the relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing has developed, since China took over the former British enclave. You can read our announcement here, or join the debate at our event page here.