In the Man Booker prize-longlisted Five Star Billionaire Tash Aw charts the overlapping lives of migrant Malaysian workers, forging lives for themselves in sprawling Shanghai.
Justin is from a family of successful property developers. Phoebe has come to China buoyed with hope, but her dreams are shattered within hours as the job she has come for seems never to have existed. Gary is a successful pop artist, but his fans and marketing machine disappear after a bar-room brawl. Yinghui has businesses that are going well but must make decisions about her life. And then there is Walter, the shadowy billionaire, ruthless and manipulative, ultimately alone in the world.
In Five Star Billionaire, Tash Aw charts the weave of their journeys in the new China, counterpointing their adventures with the old life they have left behind in Malaysia. The result is a brilliant examination of the migrations that are shaping the new city experiences all over the world, and their effect on myriad individual lives.
"Tash Aw's tale of five migrant workers carving out lives in a modernising Shanghai is the stuff of a hit TV miniseries… the reading experience it offers is coolly engrossing" (Adam Mars-Jones,
"A fascinating cast of characters… a panoramic, expertly detailed painting of contemporary Shanghai" (Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times)
"Tash Aw's ‘Five Star Billionaire' opens with a bang, not a whimper. Aw is a master storyteller and ‘Five Star Billionaire' can be read as ‘The Way We Live Now' for our times' (Aminatta Forna, Guardian)
"[Tash Aw] is unmatched at evoking the smells and sounds of the land and cityscapes, the figures of speech and shifting cultural mores of that finger-like peninsula that pokes into the South China Sea…Their tales are told chapter by chapter, the characters slowly drawing closer together like flotsam in a vortex, before the stunning finale…There is wit here, and plenty of acute observation and characterisation." (Sholto Byrne, Independent on Sunday)
"Tash Aw's latest book is a new kind of immigrant novel. One that takes place in our increasingly mutlipolar world and is, in some ways, a challenge to the old narrative" ( Sunday Telegraph)
"The five characters are distinct, and Aw manages to bring them together well… Aw brilliantly recreates the intonations and vocabulary of someone educated only in Chinese." ( Independent)
"Tash Aw's gently compelling novel follows several narratives that overlap in unexpected ways… Aw's style - terse but tender, lightly ironic without being snide - is fresh, bracing and, above all, compassionate. His characters, though shy and private people, form profound impressions on the reader. One simply cares deeply what happens to them, and this skilled writer never makes that an easy matter to predict" ( Scotsman)
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