The Locust Hunter by Poh Lam

The Locust Hunter

Poh Lam

An amazing insight into a a culture so different from ours. Sundance is a 9-year-old boy living in a village near Hong Kong on the Chinese border. He earns enough money to help his family and to buy cans of 7up by catching and selling locusts and other insects. The village revolves around mythology and the tortoise - Lord Baltimore after whom their village is named. When the tortoise dies their lives change forever. A magical read, hard to imagine that it is based in a village only 30 years ago.

Extract

I was nine going on ten the year it happened. Was supposed to have substance. Attained something. A suit and tie. A comb. A girlfriend. A streetwise swagger and even marriage which, I suppose, does sound rather comic, but Hong Kong is a fast train and it is never too early to think about the future. For me, manhood was around the corner. The big wide world. But this didn't necessarily mean I knew what was going on. I was still trying to work it out. There are Myth Hunters and Treasure Hunters and even hunters who hunt hunters, but Immortality Hunters, I have to acknowledge, were truly something else. You can compare peanuts to gold and talk about what it means to you personally, but at the end of the day it's just peanuts. The Aphrodisiac Industry is gold. It is the truth. To dine on the flesh of a tiger or even a tortoise can, in theory make you live a second longer. A gullible donkey I may be, and I can believe in the fantastic - magic carpets and spiders that metamorhpose into wasps - but to believe in the forever, living forever: how can anyone be so gullible? Lord Baltimore (tortoise) died because of this belief in immortality. Just as the place of childhood died because of Lord Baltimore's death. A chain of events had been started, and all we could do was watch Tortoise Spring slowly die.

Parallels
  • A Never Ending Story by Michael Ende
  • Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith