Tash Aw's highly original first novel juxtaposes three accounts of the life of an enigmatic man at a pivotal and haunting moment in Malaysian history. The Harmony Silk Factory is the textiles store run by Johnny Lim, a Chinese peasant living in rural Malay in the first half of the twentieth century. It is the most impressive and truly amazing structure in the region, and to the inhabitants of the Kinta Valley Johnny Lim is a heroa Communist who fought the Japanese when they invaded, ready to sacrifice his life for the welfare of his people. But to his son, Jasper, Johnny is a crook and a collaborator who betrayed the very people he pretended to serve, and the Harmony Silk Factory is merely a front for his father's illegal businesses. Centering on Johnny from three perspectives those of his grown son; his wife, Snow, the most beautiful woman in the Kinta Valley (through her diary entries); and his best and only friend, an Englishman adrift named Peter Wormwood the novel reveals the difficulty of knowing another human being, and how our assumptions about others also determine who we are.
This novel evokes an exotic yet turbulent place and time — 1960s Indonesia during President Sukarno’s drive to purge the country of its colonial past. The story follows the journeys of two brothers and an American woman who are indelibly marked by the past — and swept up in the tides of history.Claire @ The Captive Reader and Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages us to share titles of books we’ve checked out of the library. Add your link any time during the week, and see what others got this week.