Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw [in Library Journal]
* STARRED REVIEW
Think of Tash Aw‘s third novel as an ingenious game called “How To Be a Billionaire.” A how-to guide is interspersed with 30 rules that also serve as chapters, e.g., “Move to Where the Money Is,” “Always Rebound After Each Failure,” “Strive To Understand the Big Picture.” The playing board is Shanghai, that 21st-century city of limitless possibility; the power broker is the eponymous Five Star Billionaire. A quartet of players – all Malaysian immigrants – are revealed one by one: country girl Phoebe, real estate heir Justin, pop superstar Gary, and businesswoman Yinghui, who is about to multiply her success. Aw moves fluidly between past and present, creating a multilayered narrative about chasing, catching, and sometimes losing elusive opportunities.
Verdict: London-based Aw, who spent a year in Shanghai on a writing fellowship, has honed his experiences into a literary victory. Admirers of Aw’s The Harmony Silk Factory, which won a Whitbread Book Award (renamed the Costa Book Awards in 2006) and a Commonwealth Prize and was long-listed for the Man Booker, and Map of the Invisible World will clamor to read this, his best thus far. Fiction aficionados with international tastes will surely fall in line as well.
Review: “Fiction,” Library Journal, April 15, 2013