Five Malaysians in Shanghai. Related in some ways but then very different in others. The story is about how their lives intersect and take dramatic turns. It is a fast paced book that covers a wide horizon of society. What stands out is the difference in the lifestyles of characters who come from really diverse backgrounds. However, that is also the weakest point of the book too – as many of the characters – Jerry, Justin and to an extent Phoebe – go through a similar crisis and face the same effects. So there is the element of predictability and repetition. The writing is good, not exceptional, and the repetition of thoughts and words gets a little tiresome. I suppose I was expecting more; Tash Aw had been one of the biggest draws of Writers and Readers festival in Ubud, Bali.
Recommendation: Don’t bother.