Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kowloon Tong: Hong Kong; Paul Theroux: Feb 2009

Kowloon Tong is a novel about the "take out" of Hong Kong by China. After 99 years of English rule, China is "taking out" Hong Kong and taking it under its wing.

The story centres on Betty Mullard and her son Bunt. They own a factory that the incoming regime covet. Mr. Hung, the representative of China, makes them an offer they can't refuse. This is meant literally, as Mr. Hung makes quite clear. People disappear, and Bunt is threatened with what unspeakable horrors will happen to him if he doesn't sell the factory to Mr. Hung. Betty Mullard is only too happy to sell, and sell they do. They leave Hong Kong for ever, the place where Bunt was born.

Paul Theroux creates the atmosphere of tension and fear that surrounded the "take out". The story of the Mullards was no doubt duplicated many times in Hong Kong, and Paul Theroux uses well-crafted English to tell the story.

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