Thursday, 29 May 2008
My Thoughts: Sour Sweet - Timothy Mo
I love Asian books and seeing the title and the author I expected this book to be set in China, however this book is about a Chinese family who have recently moved to 1960's London. The family - a young husband and wife, a baby and a sister all start of living in a small flat whilst the husband works in a Chinese restaurant. In the novel it is the women who are in charge, they pester the husband into setting up his own business and become much more integrated into the English culture than he does. However, Chinese customs and beliefs are still followed rigorously. The interpretations on British life and the misunderstandings are humourous and I could have quite happily have read another couple of hundred pages about the family life of the Chens.
The book alternated chapters between the Chen family and a group of Chinese gang members called the Hung Family. The chapters about the gang contained initiation ceremonies and lots of violence, they never really seemed to hang true and the link to the Chen family was very weak and appeared just there to provide the ending. Personally I just skim read these chapters as a means to get back to the Chan family drama.
This is my first read for the 2008 Booker Challenge, as this was short-listed for the Booker prize in 1982. Although it was an enjoyable read I can see why it wouldn't have won a Booker prize.
If you have read this book feel free to comment or leave a link to your own review.