The Year of the Woman by Jonathan Gash

The Year of the Woman

Jonathan Gash

This took me a while to get into - the Hong Kong dialect was tricky, and I didn't really identify with any of the characters. The plot was slow but OK once I'd picked up on all the different threads - Triads, business, gambling, ancestors, ghosts and customs.

Extract

Ghost Grandmother giggled, a weird high pitch that made KwayFay shudder. Some ghosts could laugh kindly; Grandmother's laugh was so horrid.
'No good settling arguments if women end up barren, ne?'
'You are so right, Grandmother,' KwayFay said, hoping praise would make her go away. 'Firecrackers are put in the teapot, with the Five Demon emblems also, as the yellow paper is waggled above. Then the firecrackers are lit. The explosions defeat the enemy woman.'
'You learned well for a change, lazy girl.'
'Thank you, Grandmother.'

Parallels
  • Tai-Pan by James Clavell
  • The Interior by Lisa See