FIVE STAR BILLIOAIRE
Phoebe is a factory girl who has come to Shanghai with the promise of a job—but when she arrives she discovers that the job doesn't exist. Gary is a country boy turned pop star who is spinning out of control. Justin is in Shanghai to expand his family's real estate empire, only to find that he might not be up to the task. He has long harbored a crush on Yinghui, a poetry-loving, left-wing activist who has reinvented herself as a successful Shanghai businesswoman. Yinghui is about to make a deal with the shadowy , the five star billionaire of the novel, who with his secrets and his schemes has a hand in the lives of each of the characters. All bring their dreams and hopes to Shanghai, the shining symbol of the New China, which, like the novel's characters, is constantly in flux and which plays its own fateful role in the lives of its inhabitants.
Five Star Billionaire is a dazzling, kaleidoscopic novel that offers rare insight into the booming world of Shanghai, a city of elusive identities and ever-changing skylines, of grand ambitions and outsize dreams. Bursting with energy, contradictions, and the promise of possibility, Tash Aw's remarkable new book is both poignant and comic, exotic and familiar, cutting-edge and classic, suspenseful and yet beautifully unhurried.
Selected Praise for Five Star Billionaire
"Estimable... artful... Mr. Aw is a patient writer, and an elegant one.
His supple yet unshowy prose can resemble Kazuo Ishiguro's...
He's a writer to watch." —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"In Five Star Billionaire, the Taiwanese-born, Malaysian writer Tash Aw chooses a refreshingly novel perspective. . . . Through five distinct Malaysian-Chinese voices, Mr. Aw wonderfully expresses the grit and cosmopolitan glamour of Shanghai today. . . . Mr. Aw has done more than merely satirize a social milieu; he has created a cast of compelling characters, all of whom have come to Shanghai to remake themselves, yet are haunted by their pasts in ways that they barely understand. . . .
In Five Star Billionaire, Mr. Aw has achieved something remarkable."—Julia Lovell, The Wall Street Journal
"Few people can write about a place with both the astute observation of an outsider and the deep understanding of an insider. When the place is Shanghai, and when that writer is Tash Aw, we get a novel that is as multifaceted as the city itself, in which stories of the old and the new, the rich and the poor, the dreaming and the disillusioned, are woven together by a master storyteller. Tash Aw is an essential voice for the global world we live in today."
—Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
"The ambition of the book perfectly reflects its subject. In one scene, we're introduced to a 'folk guitarist whose slangy lyrics spoke of urban migration and loneliness.' Aw might be describing himself, except that his threnodies are set to sophisticated modern jazz." —Pico Iyer, Time
"Goes beyond the bounds of the ordinary . . . [Aw] provides a richly drawn landscape of compelling characters, and a deep immersion in their lives. . . . Five Star Billionaire is a fiercely contemporary tale of tradition, modernity and the cost of progress."—Ellah Allfrey, All Things Considered, NPR
'Tash Aw's tale of five migrant workers carving out lives in a modernising Shanghai is the stuff of a hit TV miniseries … the reading experience it offers is coolly engrossing'
— Adam Mars-Jones, Observer
'A fascinating cast of characters … a panoramic, expertly detailed painting of contemporary Shanghai' —Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times
'Tash Aw's 'Five Star Billionaire' opens with a bang, not a whimper. Aw is a master storyteller and 'Five Star Billionaire' can be read as 'The Way We Live Now' for our times'
—Aminatta Forna, Guardian
'[Tash Aw] is unmatched at evoking the smells and sounds of the land and cityscapes, the figures of speech and shifting cultural mores of that finger-like peninsula that pokes into the South China Sea …Their tales are told chapter by chapter, the characters slowly drawing closer together like flotsam in a vortex, before the stunning finale …There is wit here, and plenty of acute observation and characterisation.'
—Sholto Byrne, Independent on Sunday
"[Aw's] ever-spiraling web of connections is as improbable as it is entertaining, but he knits his various threads with an elegance . . . coupled with a photorealistic eye for the minutiae of urban life."—The Boston Globe
'Tash Aw's latest book is a new kind of immigrant novel. One that takes place in our increasingly mutlipolar world and is, in some ways, a challenge to the old narrative'
The five characters are distinct, and Aw manages to bring them together well … Aw brilliantly recreates the intonations and vocabulary of someone educated only in Chinese.'
'Tash Aw's gently compelling novel follows several narratives that overlap in unexpected ways … Aw's style – terse but tender, lightly ironic without being snide – is fresh, bracing and, above all, compassionate. His characters, though shy and private people, form profound impressions on the reader. One simply cares deeply what happens to them, and this skilled writer never makes that an easy matter to predict'