THE FOREIGNER by Francie Lin


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A 40-year-old Taiwanese-American virgin tracks his younger brother into the worst of all possible worlds.

Compulsively dutiful Emerson Chang has arrived in the crime-ridden city of Taipei bent on a double mission. Because his mother wants her ashes scattered in the land of her birth, he’s carried them there. “At least she was easier to manage in her new form,” he reflects. And because he’s certain it would have pleased her, he’ll hunt for Little P (P for Peter), a quintessentially undutiful son, but her favorite nonetheless. It’s been ten years since he’s heard from his rascally kid brother, but the instant he locates him, Emerson, who can be as naïve as Candide, already knows that he’s run true to form. Hard-bitten, shifty and less than delighted at the reunion, Little P now works for an uncle managing the family karaoke bar. Though Emerson speaks no Chinese, even he can spot sleaziness this obvious. This is no ordinary karaoke bar, and its employees, Poison and Big One, are no ordinary cousins but bloodthirsty thugs from whom Emerson instinctively recoils. But it’s Little P who keeps the establishment’s secret, a secret so ugly and embittering that it ends by pitting brother against brother with biblical fury.

Lin can write, and this darkly funny debut is often engrossing, but would that her bachelor protagonist had been a shade less prissy.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-36404-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Picador
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2008