Two cultures meet in Timothy Mo’s life. He was born in Hong Konghis mother English, his father Chinese. When he was ten, the family moved to England, where he undertook a British preparatory schooling, then attended Oxford University to study history. Following graduation, he wrote reviews for The Times Educational Supplement and New Statesman. A bantamweight boxer, he also worked as a freelance journalist for Boxing News. He published his first novel at age twenty-eight.
Childhood in the British colony and frequent visits there after settling in England provided material for that novel, The Monkey King. Set in Hong Kong and nearby Macao during the 1950’s, the narrative focuses on Wallace Nolasco, a Chinese Portuguese man from Macao. A former Portuguese colony, the area shares mixed traditions from its Chinese citizenry and its European colonizers. Like his father, Wallace denies his Asian ancestry, considers himself Portuguese, and holds everything Asian in contempt. In Hong Kong, he identifies more with the British than the Chinese. There, he marries a Chinese woman from a prominent and extremely traditional family. At first he rebels against the household’s strict adherence to Asian customs, but after a prolonged struggle he accepts his dual heritage. In this novel and Mo’s second work, Sour Sweet, the cultural conflicts are tempered with humor. In Sour Sweet, Mo enlarges his scrutiny of...
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