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Five Star Billionaire Shanghai, the capital of the east, is potent and mythical, like New York or London in the west Immigrants are attracted to the glitter and hustle, the urbanity and promise of remaking themselves and securing wealth In Tash Aw s Booker finalist novel, four Malaysians with different stories and backgrounds come to Shanghai to score their dreams Their interconnected lives are slowly revealed over the course of the story on the way there, I was immersed in each one as the narrative alternates ba Shanghai, the capital of the east, is potent and mythical, like New York or London in the west Immigrants are attracted to the glitter and hustle, the urbanity and promise of remaking themselves and securing wealth In Tash Aw s Booker finalist novel, four Malaysians with different stories and backgrounds come to Shanghai to score their dreams Their interconnected lives are slowly revealed over the course of the story on the way there, I was immersed in each one as the narrative alternates back and forth with finesse and a solid momentum This is about characters but the main character of all is Shanghai, who subsumes and sometimes devours a person and their dreams.Phoebe is a young village woman who comes to Shanghai full of hope and hunger Changing her identity to Chinese and buying knock off designer garb, she is na ve enough to believe that material wealth is deserved and attained by her desires and the absorption of numerous self help books Gary was an abused child who became a sensation as a Taiwanese pop star, but due to some poor public conduct, has been reduced to obscurity and singing in shopping malls Yinghui is an above average success in business, but lonely in her personal life She is about to embark on an exciting business venture with the elusive billionaire, Walter Chao, who is the author of the self help book, Five Star Bilionaire Justin CK Lim is a lonely riches to rags gentleman who has become a recluse, enervated with depression The links between all of them are disclosed in the course of the story.Shanghai, for all its promise, can be an icy, unforgiving city For all the earnest aspiration and optimism, there s a tint of grim foreshadowing in every chapter There s no easy success Shanghai provides a certainty of doubt and facile exploitation to the willing and the desperate, the lonely and determined, wherever you come from and no matter your ambitions Aw s silky prose and strong characterizations swept me up into its dangerous charm and universal themes Ruin and revenge, doubt and trust, integrity and dissolution, and the capriciousness of affluence inhabit the story s heart The prospect of love in an indifferent city reaches out like a fateful redemption a mixture of excitement and apprehension that people exhibited when still new in Shanghai, in search of something, even though they could not articulate what that something was maybe it was money, or status, or, God forbid, even love but whatever it was, Shanghai was not about to give it to them This book was perfection I was so wrapped up in the second half of it that I forgot to eat dinner Five Star Billionaire follows 4 6 characters depending on how you look at it in very modern Shanghai as they attempt to survive expectations and pull themselves up economically and socially through plain hard work or through deception, if needed It s like the Protestant Work Ethic without any time for religion, turbo speed.I appreciated the portrayal of a very modern China So much of what I This book was perfection I was so wrapped up in the second half of it that I forgot to eat dinner Five Star Billionaire follows 4 6 characters depending on how you look at it in very modern Shanghai as they attempt to survive expectations and pull themselves up economically and socially through plain hard work or through deception, if needed It s like the Protestant Work Ethic without any time for religion, turbo speed.I appreciated the portrayal of a very modern China So much of what I read, even from living authors, feels somewhat traditional to the point of old fashioned This was a world where a girl might spend the last money on her copycat handbag in hopes that it will help her acquire the new job boyfriend that will change her life, where people are sitting around eating matcha muffins, sipping lattes and talking on their smartphones The characters believe in this China, and in their potential to do , to beThis was China, she told herself The unfeasible had a habit of being true she had to believe the unbelievable Yanghui This was what life was like in China Stand still for a moment and the river of life rushes past you He had spent three months confined to his apartment, and in that time Shanghai seemed to have changed completely Everyone in this city was living life at a hundred miles an hour, speeding ever forward he had fallen behind, out of step with the rest of Shanghai Justin She had learned that the appearance of classiness in Shanghai was no guarantee of truthfulness, and she treated all approaches from men with the same caution as she would when shopping for counterfeit luxury goods China was full of copycat products and people Phoebe Shanghai is a beautiful place, but it is also a harsh place Life here is not really life, it is a competition Walter The characters cover a wide span of experiences Phoebe is a migrant worker from Malaysia who does everything she can to erase her past on her way up the ladder Justin is the only person who can save his family s business Gary is a pop singer pulled out of obscurity and into the perils of fame Yinghui is a minorly successful businesswoman without a lot of practical sense Their stories link together and aren t told exactly in order, but still everything leads up to the very satisfying ending.I picked this up because it was on the Booker longlist, and I really hope it is included in the shortlist Very deserving, highly recommended There s something universally appealing about becoming filthy rich Earlier this year, Mohsin Hamid explored the topic in his book How To Become Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Now Tash Aw weighs in with Five Star Billionaire Interestingly, each of these accomplished authors employ a how to self help book conceit in this case, How To Achieve Greatness, How To Manage Time and so on.The problem or perhaps the point of this novel is, after a while, the strivers and the wannabes begin to bl There s something universally appealing about becoming filthy rich Earlier this year, Mohsin Hamid explored the topic in his book How To Become Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Now Tash Aw weighs in with Five Star Billionaire Interestingly, each of these accomplished authors employ a how to self help book conceit in this case, How To Achieve Greatness, How To Manage Time and so on.The problem or perhaps the point of this novel is, after a while, the strivers and the wannabes begin to blend together in a patina of sameness, threads in the fabric of Shanghai Each of Tash Aw s characters is searching for success and wealth, which won t necessarily equate with happiness Each arrives in Shanghai with an amorphous identity, looking to the city to define who they are And each carries the seeds of self destruction, with the inability to engage in deep introspection Each, in a word, is false and self deceptive As one character says, There is not one aspect of myself that I haven t lied about Phoebe is a factory girl in rural Malaysia, determined to reinvent herself and make it big in Shanghai The way to a real success for her is to accumulate the fake accoutrements that Shanghai is known for a fake LV read Louis Vuitton purse, a fake expensive watch, and so on In her recreation of herself, she becomes notthan but less than She is, for me, the most compelling of the characters and perhaps the one with the most to gain or lose.Justin, the scion of a wealthy real estate family, is in Shanghai to salvage his family s disappearing prospects, but fears that he will not be able to live up to expectations Leong Yinghui runs a highly successful high end lingerie company but falls into the ultimate stereotype the woman who does well in business but is a failure in her personal life and oh, it would be great to retire that stereotype Gary is a pop idol who sabotages his own spiraling career through a drunken night club altercation And finally, there s Walter Chao, the first person narrative of the self help book and the eponymous five star billionaire.All these individuals will rub against each other, testing fate and becoming intertwined in their quest to move ahead Sometimes the interactions seem organic sometimes they don t I paused in several places to determine whether they or the situations they were in passed the test of credibility.Having said that and in all fairness I wonder if I m criticizing the author for writing the book I want him to write instead of the book he DID write And THAT book is done exceedingly well with a powerful depiction of Shanghai, a ruthless city on the make, a city that encourages dreaming but uncaringly spits the dreamers out at any opportunity It s a city of fake luxury goods, iconic sites such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa carved from humps of snow, and false individuals who hide behind their created images and Internet exchanges to forge a tenuous sense of intimacy Tash Aw writes, This is what happens in Shanghai People say it is the size of a small country but it is not It is bigger, like a whole continent, with a heart as deep and unknown as the forests of theand so vast and wild as the deserts of Africa People come here like explorers, but soon they disappear and no one remembers them no one even hears them as they fade away Tash Aw creates an exceptional sense of placeparticularly a sense of place in a particular moment in time.Five Star Billionaire long listed for the Booker prize is an ambitious novel and it s well written with what I suspect is a great deal of authenticity I would not discourage anyone from reading it Initially, I gave this book 3 stars but found I cannot get it out of my head and came back and re rated it I came to realize the fault may not be in the stars it may be in me, the reader Five Star Billionaire was not, unfortunately, a five star book Sorry This novel is set in Shanghai, and it deals with five main characters, whose stories are covered in alternating chapters There is Phoebe, an ambitious young woman who has come from Malaysia to Shanghai to find love and get rich Justin, the heir to a fortune who becomes a recluse when his family s business fails Yinghui, a successful entrepreneur and Gary, a teen pop star who suffers a painful fall from grace Then there Five Star Billionaire was not, unfortunately, a five star book Sorry This novel is set in Shanghai, and it deals with five main characters, whose stories are covered in alternating chapters There is Phoebe, an ambitious young woman who has come from Malaysia to Shanghai to find love and get rich Justin, the heir to a fortune who becomes a recluse when his family s business fails Yinghui, a successful entrepreneur and Gary, a teen pop star who suffers a painful fall from grace Then there s Walter Chao, the self styled five star billionaire who acts as a link between the others although it s never quite clear whether this is his real name he writes books under a number of pseudonyms , or indeed whether he is truly rich Fakeness is a major theme throughout the novel whether it s Phoebe s counterfeit designer bag or Gary s media image, the characters are all putting on some kind of front At the beginning, I was sucked into the atmospheric depiction of Shanghai I tend to like books of this type in which a number of vaguely linked characters within one city are studied separately and I was reminded of Sam Thompson s Communion Town and some of David Mitchell s work I was really interested in Phoebe immediately, and although the other characters didn t captivate me in quite the same way, I wanted to know what would happen to them, and was interested to see how their stories would converge However, I ultimately felt that rather than building up to anything exciting, the plot just slowly, quietly, petered out A couple of fairly dramatic things happened towards the end, but they happened without much fanfare and it didn t even feel like the reader was supposed to care much.The whole narrative is peppered with first person interjections from the so called billionaire, while the rest of the characters stories are related in third person It all reminded me a bit of Mohsin Hamid s How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia another one I started but never finished , particularly the self help book style chapter titles There s no doubt that Chao, or whoever he is, is an intriguing character, but I didn t feel the promise of this setup was fully exploited either I know it s sometimes best for an unreliable narrator to remain unknowable, but I would have liked some resolution as to whether anything about Chao s story and how he presented himself was actually true.This was my second attempt at reading a novel on the 2013 Man Booker Prize longlist the first, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, was abandoned because although it had the bones of an interesting story and was well written, I found it too dull and unengaging to continue past the halfway point The same sort of thing could be said about this, really It s another book I can t say anything particularly terrible about but nor can I bring myself to get excited about any aspect of it I liked the setup and the setting, but it was all a bit forgettable and it could have been so much better Another atmosphere driven book, but because I found this oneinteresting than Harvest, 4 stars, not 3 The hero antihero of this book is Shanghai, the epitome of the 21st century megalopolis, ever expanding, ever growing, glittering, energetic, and yet with pockets of an older life, a few remaining heritage buildings Aw shows us the incredible wealth that there is to be made in Shanghai, as well as how its poorer citizens live Most importantly, he shows us a society constantly in motion Another atmosphere driven book, but because I found this oneinteresting than Harvest, 4 stars, not 3 The hero antihero of this book is Shanghai, the epitome of the 21st century megalopolis, ever expanding, ever growing, glittering, energetic, and yet with pockets of an older life, a few remaining heritage buildings Aw shows us the incredible wealth that there is to be made in Shanghai, as well as how its poorer citizens live Most importantly, he shows us a society constantly in motion where a meteoric rise is one step from a crushing fall, and people s lives and careers can have many such ups and downs in the space of a few years, just as old neighborhoods can disappear and new skyscrapers spring up seemingly overnight The energy is giddy on the way up, but, with so many millions, any one can disappear, and be forgotten, if they pause or stumble even briefly Disappear is a word that echos and repeats throughout the book I found Aw s depiction of Shanghai wholly absorbing I was both enchanted and horrified he does that good a job of putting you there He also makes Malaysia come vividly to life whether it s the small northeastern villages and towns where each of his migrant protagonists hales from, or themodern but still small potatoes compared to Shanghai KL, or even a rundown seaside estate In Malaysia, as in Shanghai, the theme of landscapes changing disappearing as forest gives way to housing development, heritage building to skyscraper, is very strong.Aw is perhaps less successful with people than he is with landscapes He has 5 main characters all from rural Malaysia, all seeking their fortunes in Shanghai and while all were very interesting, some werefully realized then others Yinghui and Gary worked the best for me and stereotype and caricature were sometimes a little too close at hand For all the characters, the overriding theme is failure to connect they grope towards each other but fail to make true contact, and when they fail to connect, Shanghai swallows them up Mostly that works, but some plots seem too neatly tied up, while others just leave you wondering I remained mystified by Walter and Pheobe s relationship if anyone understood what Walter was up to, message me All in all, thoroughly engrossing I really didn t want to put it down, and disagree with reviewers who found it too long I have been to many places in Asia, but not mainland China, not Shanghai, partly because it seems daunting, and this book certainly did not lessen that feeling, but it also underscored that Shanghai in energy, in wealth creation and destruction, in attraction for goods and labor from all over the world is to the 21st century as my hometown, NY, was to the 20th Think a visit is overdue Five Star BillionaireWhen i started reading the book I liked nonchalance and easiness with which the author writes I could see his ambition and I hoped the story itself would develop from the style But it did not happen for me at all unfortunately All the characters, especially the male ones seemed to me morally damaged and emotionally mute I did not feel sympathy to any of them Phoebe is the most fake and the most off putting one Male characters are so similar to each other as if they hav Five Star BillionaireWhen i started reading the book I liked nonchalance and easiness with which the author writes I could see his ambition and I hoped the story itself would develop from the style But it did not happen for me at all unfortunately All the characters, especially the male ones seemed to me morally damaged and emotionally mute I did not feel sympathy to any of them Phoebe is the most fake and the most off putting one Male characters are so similar to each other as if they have been cloned from a single template The most sympathetic and plausible as a human being is Yinghui But at the end i think the author has overdone her character as well I could not believe that any business woman with such long experience would not check the financial side of a deal before leveraging herself up to the head with the bank loan It did not feel plausible enough even considering her growing emotional attachment to the man in the centre of it The pace of the novel as well was tiresome It has started well, but slowed later and felt almost repetitive by parts until the final twist The quotes from Walter s self help book as a chapter headings I found plainly irritating and meaningless Some reviews pointed out on the strong sense of place The novel is set in Shanghai There are a few fine descriptions, but overall I did not feel it For me it could be Moscow, Rio or even New York some 20 years ago any huge, busy, emerging metropolis will have similar characteristics I ve never been in China and I did not feel I got closer to know it based upon this novel Overall it created an impression of the relatively unsuccessful attempt of Chinese Monte Christo story in a modern urban setting If it would be factually based it might work as a piece of reporting in the FT Weekend or a similar publication But it did not work for me as a fiction Six Degrees of SeparationThere is so much in this book it s hard to know where to start On the surface it s about several unconnected 20 and 30 something year olds who are trying to make a mark in Shanghai, China s capital city Along the way Aw has lots to say about the modern day culture of that city and the ethics involved in getting ahead there Everything seems to come down to appearances which are tricky for these characters since all of them are foreigners having grown up in Taiwan Bein Six Degrees of SeparationThere is so much in this book it s hard to know where to start On the surface it s about several unconnected 20 and 30 something year olds who are trying to make a mark in Shanghai, China s capital city Along the way Aw has lots to say about the modern day culture of that city and the ethics involved in getting ahead there Everything seems to come down to appearances which are tricky for these characters since all of them are foreigners having grown up in Taiwan Being outside the Shanghai culture means they have some catching up to do Most of them take great pains to hide their outsider status because of the entrenched discrimination against them Oddly they even hide it from one another The Shanghai Aw shows us is vital with culture and color and it s seemingly ever changing even while it s entrenched in tradition Its vastness can be overwhelming however My favorite character was Phoebe a young girl who s willing to do anything to survive and get ahead, even steal, and she does survive and then begin to thrive The price for her success is the need to hide her true self as she strives to emulate the behaviors of those around as well as trying to incorporate the advice she learns from self help books by dubious authors.The world Aw portrays is full of equal parts hope, desperation, and despair You ll sense disaster on the horizon even as you root for these characters The nature of success is explored as is the nature of true friendship and family loyalty The cost of keeping family secrets and keeping family shame at bay is crucial as well Saving face is all Most poignant is the theme of love It s vital to get ahead, in part to prove your for love and value to your family, but where does that leave the relationships between individuals Phoebe s ties with her roommate, Yanyan, are touching Throughout this story of competition these two stay true to one another and though they also have secrets one from the other there s a foundation of caring Hope isn t something that s abundant in Five Star Billionaire , at least not hope that s clean of desperation Phoebe and Yanyan are a welcome bright spot Lots of the other interactions between people are horrible and based on one sided or mutual exploitation I d give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars and the only reason I m not giving it five stars is because it didn t give me a sense of enjoyable exhilaration because it s themes are so depressing I m still pondering however and may still come back and adjust my rating upward I loved the subtle interplay of how or whether the characters are connected.This review is based on an advance reader s copy provided by the publisher Disclaimer given as required by the FTC Shanghai is a beautiful place, but it is also a harsh place Life here is not really life, it is a competition.Shanghai is the world s largest city, with a total population of over 23 million It can arguably claim to be the city of the 21st century, similar to 19th century London and 20th century New York, as it is a booming financial, commercial and entertainment center that attracts emigrants and visitors from every continent, and it is the leading symbol of the new China and its growing infl Shanghai is a beautiful place, but it is also a harsh place Life here is not really life, it is a competition.Shanghai is the world s largest city, with a total population of over 23 million It can arguably claim to be the city of the 21st century, similar to 19th century London and 20th century New York, as it is a booming financial, commercial and entertainment center that attracts emigrants and visitors from every continent, and it is the leading symbol of the new China and its growing influence on Asia and the rest of the world.Tash Aw was born in Taipei to Malaysian parents, grew up in Kuala Lumpur, was educated in the UK, and lived in London before he moved to Shanghai after he was chosen to be the first M Literary Writer in Residence in 2010 In this superb novel, he portrays five Malaysian Chinese who have moved to Shanghai to seek the wealth and prestige that the city seems to offer to each of its newcomers.Phoebe is a na ve and uneducated young woman from the Malaysian countryside, who emigrates illegally to China on the suggestion of a friend, but soon after she arrives she finds that the dream job she was promised has suddenly vanished Justin is the eldest son of a wealthy real estate tycoon, charged with purchasing a property in Shanghai that will save his family from ruin in the face of the Asian financial crisis Gary is a pop mega star who performs in front of thousands of adoring fans, while battling internal demons that threaten to destroy his career Yinghui is the daughter of a prominent family in Kuala Lumpur who transforms herself from a left wing political activist into a hard nosed and successful businesswoman Finally, Walter is a secretive and shadowy figure who has risen up from the ashes of his father s ruin to become a prominent developer and the anonymous author of the best selling book How to Become a Five Star Billionaire The first four characters are all interlinked with Walter, the only person given a voice in the first person in the book, in an intricately woven web that slowly tightens around each of them.Through these characters, Tash Aw provides a fascinating internal glimpse into modern Shanghai, a city filled with ambitious but often lonely and desperate people from all over Asia whose singular focus on material goods and wealth outweighs the attainment of love and personal happiness Anything and anyone is fair game for exploitation and deceit, and the widespread availability of counterfeit watches, purses and clothing mimics the superficiality of the city s high stakes capitalist culture Self help books such as the one written by Walter are the bibles of the young up and comers, and traditional Chinese culture is viewed as outdated and stifling to young people like Phoebe.Each one attains some degree of success, but several meet with sudden and spectacular failure, in the matter of a climber that reaches the summit of a mountain only to be blown off of it entirely by a sudden gust of wind The city held its promises just out of your reach, waiting to see how far you were willing to go to get what you wanted, how long you were prepared to wait And until you determined the parameters of your pursuit, you would be on edge, for despite the restaurants and shops and art galleries and sense of unbridled potential, you would always feel that Shanghai was accelerating a couple of steps ahead of you, no matter how hard you worked or played The crowds, the traffic, the impenetrable dialect, the muddy rains that carried the remnants of the Gobi Desert sandstorms and stained your clothes every March The city was teasing you, testing your limits, using you You arrived thinking you were going to use Shanghai to get what you wanted, and it would be some time before you realized that it was using you, that it had already moved on and you were playing catch up Five Star Billionaire is a captivating work about Shanghai and the new China, and the lives of five talented and determined people who seek wealth and fulfillment but find loneliness and misery instead I read nearly all of this novel in a single sitting, and I was quite sorry to see it end I also loved Tash Aw s previous novel Map of the Invisible World, and I look forward to reading The Harmony Silk Factory later this year.I received Five Star Millionaire from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program It is currently available in the UK, and will be published in the US on July 2nd One of those novels about a set of tangentially linked characters in a city It s a format I like, but it s been done a lot so each book does need to distinguish itself, and the settings are important most American ones feel very tired indeed to me, London rather overdone though at least likeable Five Star Billionaire is set in Shanghai which is, mindblowingly, bigger than London New York put together in population terms.For perhaps the first half of the book I was swept away by the engros One of those novels about a set of tangentially linked characters in a city It s a format I like, but it s been done a lot so each book does need to distinguish itself, and the settings are important most American ones feel very tired indeed to me, London rather overdone though at least likeable Five Star Billionaire is set in Shanghai which is, mindblowingly, bigger than London New York put together in population terms.For perhaps the first half of the book I was swept away by the engrossing details of location and culture and by the feeling of my mental map reorientating itself to a centre on the other side of the world Japan s just over there and it s where rich people might go on skiing holidays, immigrants make hops from rural Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur to Taipei to Guanghzou to Shanghai as they look for progressively better wages, whilst those who ve made it might try and emigrate to Australia or Canada A slight increase in understanding of this burgeoning place and the smallness and oldness of here gave me that same sensation of relief and peaceful insignificance as does looking up at the stars Aw s Shanghai has immense buzz It s similar to the sense of Rising Asia in Mohsin Hamid s new novel, and the homeland of Xiaolu Guo s Z inA Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Loverswhich I also read recently Shanghai though is so overwhelmingly glamorous, the place to be for young people on the make, that what I m most reminded of is the mid 1960 s Swinging London films, in which a country fresh twentysomething often female arrives in the big city world of fun and dubious morality Those films often had an underlying disapproving messagejust as Aw doesn t present an altogether positive view of the brash new Chinese capitalism This is a money focused world which in that respect to the Brit or American feels1980 s than 60 s, but without the jadedness we might associate with 30 years ago.Internet use, online relationships and internet addiction are dealt with better here than in most novels where I ve seen them mentioned and refreshingly pun intended without any use of screenshots or chat layouts Several characters go through a cocooned hikokomori stage which was wonderfully done.But for all that there were certain things I loved about this book, it did quite often also feel like just yet another city novel I don t know nearly enough about Shanghai or about Malaysian immigrants to China as the four main characters are to speak definitively, but there was a feeling of stereotype about these characters and the reiterated, yet for some true, idea of a city that will chew you up and spit you out if you re not careful It feels comfortable to have certain stereotypes addressed head on this and the Hamid Guo books I mentioned above both include fake designer goods, shoddy manufacturing etc But the human personalities in Five Star Billionaire could have beenoriginal Broadly, the two women are very ambitious, the two men who ve already made it young want to drop out They are all most likeable at their crisis points, when they have doubts Or does that simply say something about me When the action is trundling along they re just mannequins and archetypes The fifth character, the Five Star Billionaire , a shadowy private investor author of a self help book, works quite well within his own discrete first person chapters The other four are all in third person omniscient But when he interacts with the others he s effectively just a symbol,rather in the manner of one of Scrooge s ghosts, and I still can t decide how well all this gels.The author s first novelThe Harmony Silk Factorywas for a few years ubiquitous in British bookshops, and mentions the Lim family in its synopsis they also have a significant role here This book does work as a standalone story, though I sometimes wondered if I was missing anything by not having read Aw s earlier work Five Star Billionaire is perhaps a bit too long at nearly 450 pages Nevertheless it was a very fast read compared with my previous book, a 540pp Iris Murdoch I read 95% of this in one 24 hour period despite feeling a bit ill To borrow a phrase from a friend of a friend in a recent discussion, it hints at big ideas but doesn t do much with them For my liking it s maybe too bland and stylistically unoriginal compared with the Hamid or Guo novels I saw it described on a forum as a literary soap IMO they were quite right It s like a jumbo bag of prawn crackers large but light and insubstantial As a relatively undemanding book which still gives quite a bit to talk about, it seems like good book group material if people don t mind the page count An entertaining, expansive, and eye opening novel that captures the vibrance of China today, by a writer whose previous work has been called mesmerizing, haunting, breathtaking, mercilessly gripping, seductive, and luminous Phoebe is a factory girl who has come to Shanghai with the promise of a job but when she arrives she discovers that the job doesn t exist Gary is a country boy turned pop star who is spinning out of control Justin is in Shanghai to expand his family s real estate empire, only to find that he might not be up to the task He has long harboured a crush on Yinghui, who has reinvented herself from a poetry loving, left wing activist to a successful Shanghai businesswoman She is about to make a deal with the shadowy figure of Walter Chao, the five star billionaire of the novel, who with his secrets and his schemes has a hand in the lives of each of the characters All bring their dreams and hopes to Shanghai, the shining symbol of the New China, which, like the novel s characters, is constantly in flux and which plays its own fateful role in the lives of its inhabitants Five Star Billionaire, the dazzling kaleidoscopic new novel by the award winning writer Tash Aw, offers rare insight into China today, with its constant transformations and its promise of possibility

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