Five Star Billionaire

Tash Aw, Author
Tash Aw. Spiegel & Grau, $26 (379p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9434-6
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013
Release date: 07/02/2013
Aw (Map of the Invisible World), in his third novel, follows five Malaysian immigrants in Shanghai as they try to realize the city’s dazzling promise. Justin C.K. Lim has come to expand his family’s Forbes-listed financial empire, while his old crush Yinghui, just nominated for a Businesswoman of the Year award, is haunted by her idealistic activist past. Phoebe, having grown up in a village that “was not a place for dreams or ambition,” jumps at the chance to take over a friend’s restaurant job in mainland China, but when she arrives, she discovers that the restaurant has been abandoned. Pop star Gary, after conquering Malaysia and Taiwan, comes to cement his idol status, only to find himself under siege by the tabloids. Walter Chao is a powerful billionaire whose charitable deeds are as mystifying as his charm. These characters, whose lives intersect and overlap in the strangest of ways, create a portrait of an unforgiving city that “held its promises just out of your reach.” But like the characters, who are left confused and wanting more, one reaches the novel’s conclusion feeling disappointed. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Associates. (July)
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