The Harmony Silk Factory

The Harmony Silk Factory

Book - 2005
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A brilliant novel (now being translated into many languages around the world for simultaneous publication in 2005) from a genuinely exciting new voice in British fiction. A novel for anyone who enjoyed The English Patient.

Blackwell North Amer
This is the story of Johnny Lim - textile merchant, petty crook, and inventor of the Amazing Toddy Machine - and his marriage to Snow Soong, the most beautiful woman in the Kinta Valley. In 1940, with the Japanese threatening to invade, Johnny and Snow embark upon their honeymoon, recounted in Snow's captivating journal, to the mysterious Seven Maiden Islands, accompanied by a mercurial Japanese professor and Peter Wormwood, an Englishman adrift. Many years later, Wormwood looks back on this defining journey, while Snow's only son goes in search of the truth of his mother and the infamous Chinaman she married.
Set against the backdrop of a country in crisis, this novel is both a mystery and a confession that dramatises the ambiguous nature of identity.

Publisher: London : Fourth Estate, c2005
ISBN: 9780007182046
Branch Call Number: FIC AW
Characteristics: 362 p. ;,25 cm.


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Jul 22, 2012

Beautifully written, multi-layered portrait of an anti-hero whose character stays ambivalent - like the country of the author, Malaysia, although he gives the reader deep insights from the viewpoint of natives.

Khru_JoAnne Oct 04, 2011

Who is Johnny Lim? Is he the monster his son Jasper says he is? Is he the "unfathomable inscrutable East" according to his wife Snow? Or is he the guileless innocent as described by his friend Peter? It is difficult to say with any certainty _who_ Johnny Lim is since all three are unreliable narrators. Regretfully, "Johnny, we hardly knew
ye." To the end, he is an enigma for we never hear from Johnny himself. Tash Aw's novel is a complex inconsistent work filled with familiar tropes of the Far East and nods to Conrad and Maugham. As he conjures up images of white linen suits, Panama hats, forbidding
jungles, and parvenu (non)natives with upper-class pretensions, he
tosses away an intriguing notion: Chinese capitalist merchants as
secret communist guerrillas. At times, the underlying story (Malaysian history) threatens to overwhelm the plot with unanswered questions. At
other times, the characters underwhelm the reader's expectations for clarity. What Peter says pretty much sums up the ambiguities of postcoloniality that Aw attempts to explore: "That things thought of as native aren't always what they seem, and that we shouldn't be constrained by ideas of what belongs where."

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