God of Luck

Ruthanne Lum McCunn, Author . Soho $23 (239p) ISBN 978-1-56947-466-2

Ah Lung, the youngest son in a family of silk producers, is kidnapped and forced into slavery in McCunn's underpowered latest. Though Ah Lung signs a labor contract that promises generous wages and a limited term of employment, once he begins the journey to Peru from his native southern China, he discovers the wages are nonexistent and his chances of surviving the contract are only slightly better than those of surviving the voyage to Peru. While he endures being shackled in an overcrowded ship's hold, a failed mutiny, a shipboard fire and a cholera outbreak before being unloaded and forced to do backbreaking work in a guano mine, his family, especially his wife, Bo See, and sister Moongirl, search for him. Bo See decides to grow an additional crop of silkworms to finance her husband's rescue, and Ah Lung perseveres in the harshest of conditions. McCunn has done an enormous amount of research into both Chinese slavery and silk production, and though the information is fascinating, it tends to overwhelm her narrative and undermine its tension. The book has an epic sweep, but the reading experience is only partially satisfying. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-1-56947-518-8
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