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The Harmony Silk Factory


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A landmark work of fiction from one of Britain's most exciting new writers: The Harmony Silk Factory is a devastating love story set against the turmoil of mid-twentieth century Malaysia. / Will be embraced by readers of a broad spectrum of accessible literary fiction, from The Kite Runner to The English Patient and Brick Lane. / Nationwide press advertising campaign will launch paperback publication. / Features and review coverage anticipated. / Competition: The English Patient; The Impressionist.

About the Author

Tash Aw is a recent graduate of UEA. He is Malaysian by birth but now lives in London. This is his first novel.


Born in Taipei, raised in Malaysia, and currently residing in London, Aw debuts with a lush offering set mostly in Malaysia during the 1930s and 1940s yet interwoven with the present. The protagonist is former Chinese peasant Johnny Lim, who rises to infamy across the Kinta valley as head of the Harmony Silk Factory. His story is narrated in three parts by his son Jasper; his wife, Snow; and his best friend, an Englishman named Peter. Each narrative highlights a different perspective of Johnny's life, from Jasper's seedy revelations of his father's dark and murderous past, to diary entries disclosing Snow's discontent in her marriage, to Peter's revelations regarding his bonds of friendship with Johnny and repressed love for Snow. Written in crisp and flowing prose, yet with a formal intonation that gives the narrative a certain British air, this work demonstrates the author's storytelling ability as it brings the depths of the Malaysian jungles to the reader. Recommended for most public and academic library fiction collections.-Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

'A fine, strong, confident novel -- and what a storyteller Tash Aw is. Unputdownable' Doris Lessing 'The Harmony Silk Factory is an utterly remarkable debut. It's a dream of a novel, lovely and exquisite and intense, and reveals Tash Aw's already prodigious gift for storytelling; this young writer has come to us fully formed, and with the promise of a long and significant career.' Chang-rae Lee 'Bewitchingly written and gracefully assured ! The story Aw tells is mercilessly gripping and his prose is lucid, uncluttered, beautiful ! Aw orchestrates a graceful ballet of dissonances and congruences, of echoes and discords.' Neel Mukherjee, The Times 'Tash Aw's striking debut is as elusive as it is exotic. Aw is a skilled and sensitive writer' Daily Mail 'Absorbing ! a rich, intense novel ! The strength of Tash Aw's writing can be seen in the three narratives. Each voice is distinct and each offers a subtly different viewpoint, remaking the material afresh ! The beauty and danger of nature are everywhere in this delicately drawn novel' TLS

Aw slices his first novel into three segments, wherein three characters dissect the nature of Johnny Lim, a controversial figure in 1940s Malaysia. Depending on the teller, Johnny was a Communist leader, an informer for the Japanese, a dangerous black-market trader, a working-class Chinese man too in awe of his aristocratic wife to have sex with her, or a loyal friend. Long after Johnny's death, we hear these conflicting accounts from his grown son, Jasper; his wife, Snow (through the lens of her 1941 diary); and his English expatriate friend, Peter Wormwood. The chief benefit of this structural trick is to make palpable the limitations of each character's perspective, and that's no mean feat. But Aw's prose, though often witty and taut, is not equally convincing in all its guises. Jasper is the typical alienated son who burns to discover all the crimes his father committed; this also makes him the typical unreliable narrator (when his father kills a mosquito that had bitten him, Jasper cites this as proof of an innate "streak of malice"). When Snow takes over, Johnny suddenly resembles a more ordinary man, while she-adored by her son, whose birth caused her death-reveals herself to be a fallible character and an unfaithful wife. The most boisterous and enjoyable thread of this story belongs to Peter, with whose chipper English patter Aw, oddly enough, seems most at home. Agent, David Godwin. Foreign rights sold in 10 countries. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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