peteg's blog - noise - books - 2016 10 01 PeterHoDavies TheFortunes

Peter Ho Davies: The Fortunes.

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Emily Eakin at the New York Times sold it to me, and now I'll have to read his earlier The Welsh Girl too. She's right that the first of the four stories about the Chinese experience of America is the strongest, perhaps because Davies invests so much in his invented central character whose privileged position allows a wide exploration of the Chinese diaspora and sundry railwaymen of late nineteenth century California. The others are more fictionalized history, of Anna May Wong, film star; Vincent Chin, murderee, written in hand wringing The Remains of the Day style; and of adopting babies in present-day China. The prose is solid but doesn't achieve the crystalline precision of Atticus Lish, which makes things seem less necessary.