Dark themes of colonial misconduct, racial prejudice, and doomed love resonate throughout this novel, yet it is infused with characteristic humor and warmth. It opens in Malaysia during the 1950s Communist insurrection when a young Englishman, Christopher, falls in love with a Chinese girl. The book then moves to 1969 where Frances, Christopher's Eurasian teenage daughter, is seduced by a Chinese teacher twice her age and drawn into the Malay-Chinese race riots in Kuala Lumpur. The final part of the book travels to 1990s London; Frances' two mixed-race children live with their grandfather on a council estate, and embark on a quest to discover the truth behind their mother's death.
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The sound of mocking laughter echoes round Christopher Milnar’s head. Half a century ago, he was posted to a Chinese resettlement camp in the Malayan jungle called the Village of Everlasting Peace. Now the ghosts of that time – Charles Dulwich, who was driven to suicide, and Mrs Ho, torched by Red insurgents – visit him daily in his East London tower block, taunting him and triggering vivid memories of his younger days as a colonial adventurer. Surrounded by poverty and squalor, terrorized by Communist guerrillas, Christopher fell passionately in love with Chinese nurse Evangeline, only to be betrayed, beaten, and left for dead. Nonetheless, Christopher has gone on loving her into his old age. But neither the ghost of Evangeline nor the other woman he yearns for, his dead daughter, Frances, has ever returned to visit him. Until Adam, his grandson, embarks on a quest to piece together the fragments of a family torn apart.
Susan Barker’s second novel resonates with dark themes of colonial misconduct, racial prejudice and doomed love. From present-day London to the heart of the Malayan jungle, to post-colonial Kuala Lumpur and back to London, The Orientalist and the Ghost is an epic portrayal of human frailty and the hazardous dictates of the heart.About the Author:
Susan Barker is the author of Sayonara Bar, which was shortlisted for the Author's Club First Novel prize and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize.
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