Recommended by Michael-at-work, I’d picked this up more than once from the library, but for some reason the synopsis hadn’t seemed alluring enough. I’m glad I gave it another go.
Tash Aw tells us the story of Johnny Lim from three angles – his son’s (Jasper), his wife’s (Snow), and his British friend’s (Peter) – each forming a separate section of the novel. Their memories and experiences overlap and frequently conflict, such that the central character – Johnny – and the truth, ultimately remains elusive. With a relatively small cast of characters, this novel brings to life a period of turmoil in South East Asia, principally Malaya/Malaysia: the end of era of British Empire and the expansion of Japanese power, and war, in its place. And it’s beautifully done.