Fragrant Harbour by John Lanchester
In his new novel Fragrant Harbour John Lanchester, as in his previous books, shows an impressionist's gift for adopting different voices for his narrator. The moral hedonist Tarquin Winot who tells his story in The Debt to Pleasure and the downsized suburbanite whose inner monologues provide the material for Mr Phillips could hardly be more contrasting characters, yet Lanchester makes both equally convincing. In Fragrant Harbour much of the story is told in the words of Tom Stewart, a young Englishman who sails to Hong Kong in the 1930s and ends up spending the rest of his long life there. The voice of Stewart--reserved, humane and understated--is as finely achieved as those in the earlier novels. Through his eyes we see Hong Kong's 20th-century history. The class-ridden and racially divided society of the 1930s is given the brutal awakening of the Japanese occupation. After the war, the old Hong Kong disappears and the city is transformed by economic boom and entrepreneurial energy. ... read more
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