I really loved this review by MethasLithos as she really got one of the things I was going for which was to capture the feel of going back and forth between Asia and America, the frenetic pace, the way the countries were so different and yet are becoming more similar. Let me quote:
First thing I’d like to do after reading this book is thanking the author for writing a book taking place in China, but not about China. I have read very little of those, and it’s the first one I am reading were the author is clearly comfortable with both Western and Eastern world. I am thanking him because, as a mixed-blood person, it is the first time I recognize my environment in a story, and I loved it. When I say that I recognize my environment, it’s not the exact detail of streets or details such as this, but the feeling that I got out of it. This book felt like eating a kaoya followed by a burger, or going from Christmas to Chinese New Year, which is my everyday life, and I am glad of finally seeing someone using it as his playground.
Playground is the perfect description. There were times in China where we’d be flying all over the place, going on fun adventures, meeting all sorts of new people who I’d forget a few minutes later (sorry!), and seeing some of the most beautiful sights (as well as having lots of great food). I’m thrilled that she also caught some of the Mandarin words I played with, seeing things on a deeper level.
Other details are great fun. Each time I read the name of Larry’s company, ‘Chao Toufa’, which litterally means ‘Chao’s Hair’, I was reading ‘chou toufu’, which means ‘stinky toufu’. I wonder if this was intentional or not, and I think it might actually have been an adequate name for the company. I loved the cricket fights and it looks like I am not the only one. The world created by Peter Tieryas Liu abounds with such great finds.
I admit, I don’t enjoy a lot of the books I read from expats because the focus is solely on making China this exotic, almost fetish place, a lot of times filled with criticisms and mockery based on cultural misunderstandings. I wanted BNW to feel much more natural, not emphasizing the Asiatic element, yet having it permeate and imbue the feel of the novel. This is not a book about China, even though China forms the backdrop for the characters. And yet, it wouldn’t be the same book without it taking place in China. Thanks again to MethasLithos! You can see the full review below!