A novel that cleverly shines a spotlight on the aspirations of the new world by following the fate of four foreigners as they try to make their fortunes and live the dream in one of the modern capitals of capitalism — Shanghai.
Five Star Billionaire is a skillfully crafted story by Tash Aw whose critically acclaimed first novel The Harmony Silk Factory
, was published in 2005 and has since been translated into twenty languages. His debut novel was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel (Asia Pacific region) an also won the 2005 Whitbread Book Awards First Novel Award.
In his latest work, Aw takes a hard, critical look at our modern, money-driven global lifestyle through the destinies of four very different people chasing their dreams in China. The main characters all hail from Malaysia (where Aw spent his formative years), but have since reinvented themselves to find fame, fortune, and ultimately self worth, in one of the world's most bountiful centres of wealth, Shanghai.
Justin's family are successful property developers back in Malaysia, but he yearns for the freedom to pursue his own goals. Gary has already re-invented himself once as a successful pop singer in Taiwan, but when a fight in bar goes viral online he is shamed and disowned by his fans, forcing him into self-exile. Yinghui has started a successful spa business in China, but feel she is betraying the ideals of her youth and Phoebe is an ambitious young village girl who arrived in Shanghai with a false ID and the promise of a job that turns out to be false hope.
Meanwhile, constantly in the frame is another all important character, Walter Chao, a mysterious HNWI and business advisor who is also the author of the bestselling self help guide from which the novel takes its name. The book is one of the factors that drives these four troubled but hopeful souls, as they drift towards their destiny.
As each of the misplaced individuals pursues a personal dream, their paths inevitably cross and past connections are revealed that ultimately have a bearing on their fate. Tash Aw skillfully weaves together the experiences, successes and disappointments of his migrant hopefuls in the new China, juxtaposing their adventures with the lives they left behind in their native land.
A sensitive yet compelling novel, the interconnected narratives that come together in Five Star Billionaire make for an intriguing and sometimes enlightening read. Aw is careful to avoids over dramatisation or create larger than life characters, and this gives each personality's story a refreshing sense of realism that really makes you care what happens to them.
In some ways, Five Star Billionaire is a multi-personality biography. It is also an evocative depiction of a city that in the minds of many Asian people, is paved with gold.
Well worth some of your sun bed time.
by LVH Marketing