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Pao. Un Chino En Kingston

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The irresistible story of Pao—Chinese-Jamaican racketeer, not-so-ruthless fixer, star-crossed lover—as he navigates the roiling history of twentieth-century Jamaica. As a young boy, Pao comes to Jamaica in the wake of the Chinese Civil War and rises to become the Godfather of Kingston’s bustling Chinatown. Pao needs to take care of some dirty business, but he is no Don Corl The irresistible story of Pao—Chinese-Jamaican racketeer, not-so-ruthless fixer, star-crossed lover—as he navigates the roiling history of twentieth-century Jamaica. As a young boy, Pao comes to Jamaica in the wake of the Chinese Civil War and rises to become the Godfather of Kingston’s bustling Chinatown. Pao needs to take care of some dirty business, but he is no Don Corleone. The rackets he runs are small-time and the protection he provides necessary, given the minority status of the Chinese in Jamaica. Pao, in fact, is a sensitive guy in a wise guy role that doesn’t quite fit. Often mystified by all that he must take care of, Pao invariably turns to Sun Tzu’s Art of War. The juxtaposition of the weighty, aphoristic words of the ancient Chinese sage, and the tricky criminal and romantic predicaments Pao must negotiate goes far toward explaining the novel’s great charm. A tale of post-colonial Jamaica from a unique and politically potent perspective, Pao moves from the last days of British rule through periods of unrest at social and economic inequality, though tides of change that will bring about Rastafarianism and the Back to Africa Movement. Pao is an utterly beguiling, unforgettable novel of race, class and creed, love and ambition, and a country in the throes of tumultuous change. Watch Kerry Young talking about Pao on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbqrrp...


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The irresistible story of Pao—Chinese-Jamaican racketeer, not-so-ruthless fixer, star-crossed lover—as he navigates the roiling history of twentieth-century Jamaica. As a young boy, Pao comes to Jamaica in the wake of the Chinese Civil War and rises to become the Godfather of Kingston’s bustling Chinatown. Pao needs to take care of some dirty business, but he is no Don Corl The irresistible story of Pao—Chinese-Jamaican racketeer, not-so-ruthless fixer, star-crossed lover—as he navigates the roiling history of twentieth-century Jamaica. As a young boy, Pao comes to Jamaica in the wake of the Chinese Civil War and rises to become the Godfather of Kingston’s bustling Chinatown. Pao needs to take care of some dirty business, but he is no Don Corleone. The rackets he runs are small-time and the protection he provides necessary, given the minority status of the Chinese in Jamaica. Pao, in fact, is a sensitive guy in a wise guy role that doesn’t quite fit. Often mystified by all that he must take care of, Pao invariably turns to Sun Tzu’s Art of War. The juxtaposition of the weighty, aphoristic words of the ancient Chinese sage, and the tricky criminal and romantic predicaments Pao must negotiate goes far toward explaining the novel’s great charm. A tale of post-colonial Jamaica from a unique and politically potent perspective, Pao moves from the last days of British rule through periods of unrest at social and economic inequality, though tides of change that will bring about Rastafarianism and the Back to Africa Movement. Pao is an utterly beguiling, unforgettable novel of race, class and creed, love and ambition, and a country in the throes of tumultuous change. Watch Kerry Young talking about Pao on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbqrrp...

30 review for Pao. Un Chino En Kingston

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This is my first novel by Kerry Young; it is set in Jamaica from the 1940s to the 1990s. One thing that attracted me to it was that it is not a stand-alone. Young intends to write a novel about each of the three main characters, looking at the same events in three different ways. Young was born in Jamaica; her father was Chinese and her mother of African and Chinese heritage. The novel is written in the first person which can make the reader very favourable towards Pao. Pao arrives in Jamaica in This is my first novel by Kerry Young; it is set in Jamaica from the 1940s to the 1990s. One thing that attracted me to it was that it is not a stand-alone. Young intends to write a novel about each of the three main characters, looking at the same events in three different ways. Young was born in Jamaica; her father was Chinese and her mother of African and Chinese heritage. The novel is written in the first person which can make the reader very favourable towards Pao. Pao arrives in Jamaica in 1938 at the age of 12 following the death of his father and lives with his uncle Zhang, who is a boss in Chinatown. Pao learns from his uncle and gradually takes over from his uncle. The business varies from the entirely legitimate to the downright illegal and includes protection and generally managing the Chinese community, bribing the police and a variety of other things. The whole feel is paternal and Pao sees himself as a good member of the community. Pao develops a relationship with Gloria, a prostitute whose brothel he protects, but he has to make a proper marriage within the community. He marries Fay Wong, from a respectable family. He has two children with Fay and one with Gloria. The backdrop to the whole novel is Jamaica and Jamaican history. Through the war years and the end of colonial rule to the unrest of the 1960s with Cuba as a backdrop, Manley’s election and loss of power and closer ties with the US. The novel covers a lot of ground including Pao’s gradual loss of influence. Pao laces his narrative with quotes from Sun Tzu and is an engaging and plausible narrator, even when he rapes his wife. The Sun Tzu quotes focus on how to get victory without direct conflict and the struggles of a minority community trying to survive. So Pao appears honourable and dishonourable, but appears to pretty much justify everything, even forcing himself on his wife: “..she must have got pregnant when I force myself on her. Not that Fay was ever willing as such but that time it was bad. I don't know what came over me.” There certainly appears to be a redemptive theme, but then I expect the novels from Gloria’s and Fay’s point of view with throw a different light. For Zhang and Pao the real enemy is British imperialism and its effects, which are marked even after independence. There are moral complexities here which are well handled and the reader sees through Pao and his petty criminality whilst understanding the difficulties of a minority community

  2. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    I went to the library recently and when I visit I always try to get 1-2 Caribbean/West Indian Books, the Librarian suggested "Pao" by Kerry Young. Set in Jamaica in the 1940s, we meet Pao who is fleeting the civil war in China. He lands in Kingston and starts working for his fathers' friend who is the "Don" of Chinatown. Pao learns as much as he can and starts taking over the business. While I loved the social commentary of what was happening in Jamaica between 1940s-1980s, I wished we learned m I went to the library recently and when I visit I always try to get 1-2 Caribbean/West Indian Books, the Librarian suggested "Pao" by Kerry Young. Set in Jamaica in the 1940s, we meet Pao who is fleeting the civil war in China. He lands in Kingston and starts working for his fathers' friend who is the "Don" of Chinatown. Pao learns as much as he can and starts taking over the business. While I loved the social commentary of what was happening in Jamaica between 1940s-1980s, I wished we learned more about Pao's history, more on the Chinese community in Jamaica at that time etc. Let it be know, Kerry Young did her research, I got a thorough history lesson on Jamaica and I appreciated that, I just wanted more.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Missy J

    2017 Jamaica Challenge #2: The Jamaican Coat of Arms is............ Out of Many, One People. A wonderful novel. At first I was a bit hesitant to read this book because many overseas Chinese writers tend to romanticize their Chinese background. Pao is the name of the young Chinese lad, who arrives in Jamaica with his mother and brother in the early-mid 20th century. Jamaica is still a British colony and Pao is trying to settle down in his new home. It's an immigrant story that I don't hear too ofte 2017 Jamaica Challenge #2: The Jamaican Coat of Arms is............ Out of Many, One People. A wonderful novel. At first I was a bit hesitant to read this book because many overseas Chinese writers tend to romanticize their Chinese background. Pao is the name of the young Chinese lad, who arrives in Jamaica with his mother and brother in the early-mid 20th century. Jamaica is still a British colony and Pao is trying to settle down in his new home. It's an immigrant story that I don't hear too often about, a Chinese in Jamaica. However, after the first few chapters, the story improved immensely. It's not just about the life of Pao. Through his eyes, we get to see and learn about the political and economic developments in Jamaica. Especially the economic developments (or lack of) were interesting because Pao works for a powerful Chinese businessman in Kingston's Chinatown and is engaged in some not so legal activities with the US navy. He witnesses the changes in Jamaica from pre-independence to the violent 80s and beyond. The entire novel is peppered with quotes from Sun Tzu's The Art of War that help Pao with his relationships, whether it is with women, business partners, relatives, friends, police, and of course his enemies too. I loved that the author decided to write this novel in Jamaican patois. This year I've been reading a lot of Jamaican novels and I somehow caught myself thinking what the characters of the other books were doing while I was reading the story of Pao. I'm very pleased with this book and feel that the author did her research well and provided accurate information about the Chinese community in Jamaica. She didn't romanticize anything, instead she included the fact that this community is shrinking, in particular because many Chinese Jamaicans left the island when the violence escalated in he 80s. Therefore, Kerry Young wrote a really remarkable work about a community that is no longer what it was. Pao's perspective on life and Jamaica is very unique. I had to laugh so much when he said that the Chinese people are good at most things, except music. Leave the music to the Jamaicans. Overall, a very nice book to include to my year of reading Jamaican books.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Title: One Out of Many Pao by Kerry Young introduces Yang Pao, a 14 year-old who is beginning life anew in Jamaica with his mother and brother. It is 1938 and Pao’s father has died fighting in the Chinese Civil War. Their benefactor is the father’s best friend Zhang, the godfather of Kingston’s Chinatown. Zhang, who never married, has a place in his organization for the family, but it is Pao who seems to have the knack for the small-time rackets and protection services, and fills the void in Zhan Title: One Out of Many Pao by Kerry Young introduces Yang Pao, a 14 year-old who is beginning life anew in Jamaica with his mother and brother. It is 1938 and Pao’s father has died fighting in the Chinese Civil War. Their benefactor is the father’s best friend Zhang, the godfather of Kingston’s Chinatown. Zhang, who never married, has a place in his organization for the family, but it is Pao who seems to have the knack for the small-time rackets and protection services, and fills the void in Zhang’s personal life. But, Jamaica at this time is not without strife while still a British Colony, the people are becoming vocal over better working conditions, and self-government, and trying to determine what is their identity as Jamaicans. As the years pass, and the conflict grows, battles between keeping the status quo or moving ahead with changes will not only affect the country but personal lives. Pao will be tested many times over the years to prove where his loyalties lie and as often with compromise all sides lose. Pao is an engaging novel that looks at the timeframe in Jamaican history not often told, from the pre-independence days of the 1930s to the independence in the 1960s to the political and economic unrest in the 1980s. With ease and captivating storytelling, the author takes us into the Jamaican Chinese world informing the reader of the vibrant community through the lives of the characters. Each chapter heading is a snippet from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and while you would think this would be helpful in Pao’s business practices, it is in his personal life that he employs the strategic advice. Pao is torn between his love for Gloria, a black Jamaican, and his need to earn respectability within the Chinese community and to honor Zhang. So Pao marries Fay, the privileged daughter of a wealthy Chinese businessman and his black wife, but she is repelled by his hoodlum life style. Gloria is now insulted that she is not good enough, but it is through her eyes that Pao gets his lessons on race, class and identity. Pao likes to think of himself as a gangster with a heart, and does do many deeds outside of the law because it is the right thing to do. But then heroism is in the eyes of the beholder and many will not see him as a hero. Ms. Young provides some historical background about the political events happening in Jamaica as after all it is the political climate which allows for the tolerance of gangs and their retribution of justice or in many cases injustice. I would have liked a little more detail into the political events and the characters that were important to Pao, but with that said, the structure does not take away from the enjoyment of the story. And in total all of the elements add to the freshness of this storyline. The pacing is brisk in this story driven by murder, corruption, blackmail, greed and incest. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction with a different view, and those who enjoy learning about Caribbean history. Reviewed by Beverly APOOO Literary Book Review

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)

    His father murdered in China, 14-year-old Pao and his mother escape to Jamaica in 1938. They live with a mysterious, elderly man, Zhang, who'd migrated to the island nation three decades earlier. Zhang is the benevolent overlord of Kingston's Chinatown, and he soon begins grooming Pao as his successor. When the younger man takes up with a black prostitute a few years later, Zhang disapproves, urging Pao to forget about her and settle down with a Chinese wife. Pao, who narrates the novel, takes ha His father murdered in China, 14-year-old Pao and his mother escape to Jamaica in 1938. They live with a mysterious, elderly man, Zhang, who'd migrated to the island nation three decades earlier. Zhang is the benevolent overlord of Kingston's Chinatown, and he soon begins grooming Pao as his successor. When the younger man takes up with a black prostitute a few years later, Zhang disapproves, urging Pao to forget about her and settle down with a Chinese wife. Pao, who narrates the novel, takes half his advice, marrying Fay Wong, the elegant daughter of a rich Chinese businessman and his black wife. But he doesn't give Gloria, the prostitute, up. Neither woman is too pleased with the arrangement, but Pao manages to organize his life such that they never meet. He seems to genuinely care for both. This is a good place to mention that the author, Kerry Young, is herself Jamaican, the daughter of a Chinese father and a mother of mixed Chinese and black background. The novel, Young's first, would seem to be heavily autobiographical. Pao may well be at least somewhat based on her own father, and it is Pao's character--he's a kind man, quick to forgive and to help out--that is the book's biggest strength and biggest weakness. He narrates the stories of his less-than-licit livelihood and crazy love and family life with an endearing, dry wit. The tales are situated against the political and social events unfolding in Jamaica. The patois-inflected prose is a delight (deepened by listening to the novel on audio, read by the author). As much as I enjoyed reading about this gentle hoodlum's near-random acts of kindness, Pao's character, ultimately, was incoherent to me, certain of his kindnesses unbelievable. He immediately forgives--and then deepens his friendship with--a man after it's confirmed that the man has long had the hots for Pao's wife; that simply stretches credulity. But the most glaring flaw is that the two incidents of Pao violently abusing his wife are not treated seriously enough in the novel. Too many husbands raped and knocked their wives around back in the day, most everywhere. (And still do, of course, to this day.) But I feel that a novel published in the second decade of the 21st century needs to do a better job of problematizing such violence, however far back in history it is set. Pao does narrate these disturbing scenes with a certain degree of regret, and he does experience some negative consequences as a result of his actions. But there was something uncomfortably strange about how split off these incidents were from the rest of the story, the rest of the life of an otherwise incredibly sweet man. Again, Pao's character does not cohere. My final criticism is that, while the novel concerns multicultural Kingston, there were not enough references for me to realize the ethnicity of some pretty important minor characters until well into the story. Sure, on the one hand, it shouldn't matter, I guess, but with the ethnic mix--and ethnic tensions--being so central to the story, the racial background of each character should have been made much clearer. So, there, that's quite a lot of criticism to heap on a novel I graded as four out of five stars. In spite of the failings, I was really entertained by the story and enjoyed the writing. It brought Kingston and its multicultural communities alive for me. I would read more by Kerry Young, and hope that her more mature fiction might be less sugar-coated, its heartfelt more hard-won. Trigger warning: one extended scene of spousal rape, and another of spousal assault

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gabbie

    Pao is the February Bookophilia book club pick and so this read was more of an assignment instead of a fun read. However since it was a book I had planned on reading I wasn't annoyed that it was getting in the way of my regularly scheduled reading. Despite my early anticipation I ended up being very disappointed in the book. The exciting story I expected wasn't as much of a story as I was expecting. Instead it was biographical in nature but set in a real life context and based on true experiences Pao is the February Bookophilia book club pick and so this read was more of an assignment instead of a fun read. However since it was a book I had planned on reading I wasn't annoyed that it was getting in the way of my regularly scheduled reading. Despite my early anticipation I ended up being very disappointed in the book. The exciting story I expected wasn't as much of a story as I was expecting. Instead it was biographical in nature but set in a real life context and based on true experiences. Apart from the very beginning the novel chronicles Pao's life from his arrival in Kingston, Jamaica and continues until he is much older and is a grandfather. The story told was believable and I think Young did a good job with her research. Her use of dialect was a good attempt I think but it made the writing somewhat stilted instead of allowing it to flow as well as it could have. There were many minor characters who were not always mentioned throughout the novel which made it slightly difficult to keep track of who everyone was when at some point down the line their character popped up again. Pao isn't a bad book but it didn't tell the story I expected to hear.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    I picked this book up after reading the back cover and thinking it might be interesting to read. It was, but it also fell kind of flat. While a lot of times I say that books could be made shorter, this one could have benefited from more length. I say that it could be longer, and then realize that with the first-person voice this wouldn't really work well. While the voice (A jamaican infused chinese-english accent?) was a good attempt at throwing one into the book, it also made it hard to follow a I picked this book up after reading the back cover and thinking it might be interesting to read. It was, but it also fell kind of flat. While a lot of times I say that books could be made shorter, this one could have benefited from more length. I say that it could be longer, and then realize that with the first-person voice this wouldn't really work well. While the voice (A jamaican infused chinese-english accent?) was a good attempt at throwing one into the book, it also made it hard to follow at times. At no time did I ever feel like Young did an amazing job at describing the setting. She was short and simple on this, and yes, again the first-person narrative makes this hard to do, but the book may have been more interesting and seductive had she managed to include this. Pao's life story was interesting, but again, conflicts were not really illustrated as well as I think they could have been. Time skipped frequently and you didn't even pay notice because there was nothing to really mark it. His relationships with others wasn't that descriptive either. It was kind of dull and this could have been delved into deeper. I think it could have been much more interesting. I liked that Young started to do more of this at the end, and maybe that was part of her plan all along, but because of it, it was a bit dry most of the way. The politics, the surroundings, etc. Also dry. I definitely think this was a good base for everything but that Young could really benefit from a little more depth to everything. I felt like her point was to show how connected people get to Jamaica, but that she barely even touched that idea by leaving out so much detail. Again, I think first-person narrative is really hard to pull off, and this one maybe missed the mark by a bit. Worth a read though, a novel sort of idea, and interesting enough.

  8. 5 out of 5

    James F

    The latest book for the Goodreads group reading Jamaican literature, Kerry Young's Pao narrates the life of a Chinese immigrant to Jamaica who rises to become the boss of the Chinatown underworld and later inherits a legitimate business empire from his wealthy father-in-law. The novel is obviously well-researched, and apparently based partly on the author's father who was also a figure in the Chinese underworld in Jamaica; like Pao's daughter Mui, Kerry Young went to London at the age of ten, so The latest book for the Goodreads group reading Jamaican literature, Kerry Young's Pao narrates the life of a Chinese immigrant to Jamaica who rises to become the boss of the Chinatown underworld and later inherits a legitimate business empire from his wealthy father-in-law. The novel is obviously well-researched, and apparently based partly on the author's father who was also a figure in the Chinese underworld in Jamaica; like Pao's daughter Mui, Kerry Young went to London at the age of ten, so her knowledge of Jamaica is based on visits and reading (the novel contains a bibliography of sources -- including the 23rd edition of the Gleaner history which I reviewed a couple months ago!) The descriptions of Jamaican politics are knowledgeable and probably correct as far as they go -- mostly generalities about imperialism, neocolonialism and the need for unity among ethnic groups; although from a literary point of view it is somewhat disconcerting to find such political insight attributed to a character of that background and the political passages sometimes seem added on. The chapter titles are based on ideas from Sun Tzu's Art of War, which is also quoted frequently as a guide to the character's actions. The book was well-written for a first novel, was relatively fast-paced and kept my interest. It begins with Pao's relationship to Gloria, an East Kingston prostitute, and his marriage to Fay Wong, the daughter of a rich merchant; his relationships to these two women and the children he has by both are a main thread throughout the book. It then turns back to his arrival in Jamaica and childhood, and traces his history forward until the first birthday of his and Gloria's granddaughter and the imminent return of his and Fay's daughter Mui from London. There are a large number of secondary characters, people that he helps or has conflicts with in his capacity as gang-boss and "protector" of Chinatown; while not always well-developed they are all easily distinguishable and generally seem realistic. His role in the community seems somewhat idealized for what he does. I will next be reading her second novel Gloria, which is based on the character from this novel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    Half Sino-Jamaican version of The Godfather, half sweeping family saga, a cracking good "airport novel" of the kind you buy by the pound to tide you over a long transatlantic flight. It held my attention from start to finish, to the place I put other books on hold until I was done with it. The "big surprise" was terribly predictable, in fact I'd been predicting it from about Chapter 10, but in any case it was a good read. There are so many female leads written by male authors that this was not a Half Sino-Jamaican version of The Godfather, half sweeping family saga, a cracking good "airport novel" of the kind you buy by the pound to tide you over a long transatlantic flight. It held my attention from start to finish, to the place I put other books on hold until I was done with it. The "big surprise" was terribly predictable, in fact I'd been predicting it from about Chapter 10, but in any case it was a good read. There are so many female leads written by male authors that this was not a bad reversal of the trend. Pao sees himself as manipulating people and events like Sun Tzu, whose Art of War he quotes constantly. It takes him a lifetime to realise he is the one being manipulated...by himself.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kimbofo

    Kerry Young’s Pao tells the story of Jamaica’s history through the eyes of Yang Pao, a teenage boy who emigrates from China with his mother and brother after the death of his father in the Second Sino-Japanese War. It charts Pao’s life over the next 40 or so years and shows how he rises to become the gangland boss of Chinatown, inheriting the role from Zhang, his father’s friend who sent for their passage in 1938. Written in a hypnotic Jamaican patois, it is this forthright, rhythmic voice that br Kerry Young’s Pao tells the story of Jamaica’s history through the eyes of Yang Pao, a teenage boy who emigrates from China with his mother and brother after the death of his father in the Second Sino-Japanese War. It charts Pao’s life over the next 40 or so years and shows how he rises to become the gangland boss of Chinatown, inheriting the role from Zhang, his father’s friend who sent for their passage in 1938. Written in a hypnotic Jamaican patois, it is this forthright, rhythmic voice that brings both Pao and Jamaica to life. To read the rest of my review, please visit my blog.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sophia Walker

    I LOVED THIS BOOK! I like historical fiction and as a Jamaican this book provided some clarification of some of the political issues that were happening before I was born. This book discussed race, culture, identity, wealth etc. An awesome knowledge with great tie in with the art of war. well done kerry young!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Danielle: Braillerose

    Really interesting multicultural, historical book. I really learned a lot about other cultures post world war 2. The characters were so well developed. Only issue I had were the jumps in time weren't very clear.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily Crowe

    The eponymous Pao is only a small boy when he and his family emigrate from China to Jamaica in the wake of the Chinese Civil War and just prior to the outbreak of World War II. After settling into the Chinatown area of Kingston, Pao grows up in its shadowy underworld and eventually becomes the civic-minded leader of its organized crime, doing business and protecting the Chinese minority in the city. Using Sun Tzu's The Art of War as his conscience and guide, Pao's influence waxes and wanes again The eponymous Pao is only a small boy when he and his family emigrate from China to Jamaica in the wake of the Chinese Civil War and just prior to the outbreak of World War II. After settling into the Chinatown area of Kingston, Pao grows up in its shadowy underworld and eventually becomes the civic-minded leader of its organized crime, doing business and protecting the Chinese minority in the city. Using Sun Tzu's The Art of War as his conscience and guide, Pao's influence waxes and wanes against the backdrop of Jamaican politics, ranging from post-Colonial rule to Rastafarianism, from the Back-to-Africa movement to socialism. I've long been a reader of books of Caribbeana, particularly the fiction of the region, but this book gave me a wholly fresh perspective amidst the black African diaspora, white colonialism, and Indian subcultures that I've read before. Race and class necessarily play a large role in this book, and while I wouldn't venture to say that Pao is a feminist, his dealings with women are largely well-balanced and even occasionally progressive for a man who is a product of his time and culture. To wit: Although Pao moves to Jamaica in 1938, the book opens in media res in 1945 when Pao is beginning to earn his reputation as the go-to guy in Chinatown. A black Jamaican woman named Gloria comes to Pao to demand the justice that the law won't give her when a white sailor beats her sister almost to death. Pao's brother urges him to drop the matter because the sister is a whore and, thus, should expect to get beaten up a bit from time to time, and further, that "white men been beating Jamaican women for three hundred years." After much consideration, Pao's replies, "That is true, but this is the first time anybody come ask us to do something 'bout it." Thus marks the real beginning of Pao's unofficial career. While I didn't always like Pao, he is one of the most fascinating characters I've encountered in a long time, and seeing his trajectory from young boy to old man made for a satisfying read. I'd recommend this book for readers interested in social stratification (class, gender, race), interesting character studies, or Jamaican politics.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    Oh wow, this book was incredible. So far it is my favorite read in 2020. It was a fantastic book to start my reading journey for the year. I couldn't wait to pick it up each day to find out what was happening to the characters. Pao was a complex character and despite some of his illegal transgressions, I found myself rooting for him. The author provided an enjoyable story but laid out the complexities so it was not easy to dislike Pao. I found it refreshing reading the Jamaican Patois in this boo Oh wow, this book was incredible. So far it is my favorite read in 2020. It was a fantastic book to start my reading journey for the year. I couldn't wait to pick it up each day to find out what was happening to the characters. Pao was a complex character and despite some of his illegal transgressions, I found myself rooting for him. The author provided an enjoyable story but laid out the complexities so it was not easy to dislike Pao. I found it refreshing reading the Jamaican Patois in this book. I found myself laughing out loud in the scenes where Pao is bantering with his friends. I feel like the author did a fantastic job capturing the male perspectives in this story. And I am so impressed with how she wrapped this story with Jamaican history and context so the reader is educated and encouraged to pause and reflect on the history and how it was impacted by slavery. I like how she illuminated the class as well as the cultural struggles. I could not put this book down and can't wait to read her other books. I highly recommend this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Robin Webster

    Pao is the story of the life of Yang Poa from the time that he emigrates to Jamaica as a 14 year old boy in 1938 until 1980’s The backdrop is the political history of Jamaica and his part in Chinatowns criminal underworld. The story focuses on his relationship with his mistress a black prostitute and his wife who is the daughter of a Chinese merchant. I did feel there were some insightful observations concerning Jamaica’s political history but sometimes felt the author’s gentle style of writing Pao is the story of the life of Yang Poa from the time that he emigrates to Jamaica as a 14 year old boy in 1938 until 1980’s The backdrop is the political history of Jamaica and his part in Chinatowns criminal underworld. The story focuses on his relationship with his mistress a black prostitute and his wife who is the daughter of a Chinese merchant. I did feel there were some insightful observations concerning Jamaica’s political history but sometimes felt the author’s gentle style of writing was a little out of step with the other subject matters. I was a disappointed with this book because the story did just seem to amble along and just scratched the surface of the aforementioned relationships as well as his life in the changing face of the Jamaican criminal underworld. This book could have been a real blockbuster had all the above elements been explored in depth. Although I consider the book a great idea wasted it was an OK read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mag

    I got this book from the Early Reviewers, and it was a great read. Very interesting as it showed Jamaica from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant. I found Pao an intriguing choice for the narrator. A teenager when the book begins, he immigrates to Jamaica in 1940s to join his uncle who works there as a ‘protector’ of the Chinese community. As the years go by, he himself slides into the role of a mostly benevolent and wise Godfather, maybe not entirely the Corleone but comparable in scale for I got this book from the Early Reviewers, and it was a great read. Very interesting as it showed Jamaica from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant. I found Pao an intriguing choice for the narrator. A teenager when the book begins, he immigrates to Jamaica in 1940s to join his uncle who works there as a ‘protector’ of the Chinese community. As the years go by, he himself slides into the role of a mostly benevolent and wise Godfather, maybe not entirely the Corleone but comparable in scale for a small island. We accompany him through ups and downs of his life and many events of Jamaican history. He may be a bit too good for the life he leads and the role he plays, but he works quite well for the most part. I quite liked the style of the book – it was written mostly in spoken Chinese English. I think it added to the feel of the authenticity of Pao’s experience.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I was put off at first by the fact that this book is written in a kind of half Chinese, half Jamaican vernacular. I know, when I have read books like it before, eventually you get used to the style but I did struggle with this one throughout. The story is told by Pao, who comes from China to Jamaica as a youth in the 1940s. He grows up to become lead the 'protection' service of everyone in Kingston's Chinatown, but also of others including the brothel where his long time lover, Gloria, runs her I was put off at first by the fact that this book is written in a kind of half Chinese, half Jamaican vernacular. I know, when I have read books like it before, eventually you get used to the style but I did struggle with this one throughout. The story is told by Pao, who comes from China to Jamaica as a youth in the 1940s. He grows up to become lead the 'protection' service of everyone in Kingston's Chinatown, but also of others including the brothel where his long time lover, Gloria, runs her business. Pao marries Fay Wong, daughter of a wealthy family, and the relationship is a disaster, not least because of Gloria but also because of the vast difference in Pao's and Fay's upbringing. The history of Jamaica in this novel is fascinating - something I had no idea about - and the story was compelling enough to keep me reading, despite my difficulty with the language.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    I would give this a 4.5 and I can imagine this being a book I think about for a while after it is done and I might adjust it to a 5. This was a multi layered book about love, revolution, history, family, race, freedom, politics, and life in general. A Chinese immigrant growing up in Jamaica running the show in Kingston's Chinatown with a heart of gold. It is nearly impossible to not like the main character Pao. He is memorable and one of my favorite new characters in a while. I couldn't put this dow I would give this a 4.5 and I can imagine this being a book I think about for a while after it is done and I might adjust it to a 5. This was a multi layered book about love, revolution, history, family, race, freedom, politics, and life in general. A Chinese immigrant growing up in Jamaica running the show in Kingston's Chinatown with a heart of gold. It is nearly impossible to not like the main character Pao. He is memorable and one of my favorite new characters in a while. I couldn't put this down. I brought it to work with me and read a few pages here and there on any breaks I had. I can usually separate myself from a book long enough to go to work without reading breaks, but I couldn't leave the story for too long. A well told, well written story that I am so happy I read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Heard Kerry Young on Woman's Hour yesterday and thought it sounded good. Chinese in the Caribbean, what could possibly go wrong?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    LBC Bingo: Book's author is from an island nation (other than UK) The author was born in Jamaica and is of Chinese heritage. Enjoyable, but not amazing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dana Miller

    A compelling story about the 1940s - 1980s Kingston centering a Chinese character. Pao arrives in Kingston from China during the Chinese civil war with his mother and brother after his father's death. They are welcomed by his father's childhood friend, Zhang, who Pao quickly forms a bond with and learns everything he can from. As Pao grows, he becomes a central figure in Kingston's Chinatown, managing many of the businesses and favors for various different characters along the way. Pao falls in A compelling story about the 1940s - 1980s Kingston centering a Chinese character. Pao arrives in Kingston from China during the Chinese civil war with his mother and brother after his father's death. They are welcomed by his father's childhood friend, Zhang, who Pao quickly forms a bond with and learns everything he can from. As Pao grows, he becomes a central figure in Kingston's Chinatown, managing many of the businesses and favors for various different characters along the way. Pao falls in love with a sex worker, Gloria, but is advised against marrying her. Instead, he marries Fay, an African-Chinese woman and the daughter of a well respected Chinese man, Henry Wong. Despite their loveless marriage, Pao attempts to create a family with Fay but Fay has other plans for her life. I appreciated this story for many reasons. First, while it's evident that the Chinese make up a sizable portion of Jamaica's population, their stories are rarely told. It was nice to get a glimpse of what spurred the Chinese diaspora globally and what their lives were like when they arrived in Jamaica and how they integrated with other Jamaicans. I also appreciated the historical context; Kerry Young (the author) was sure to include the political and social climate in Jamaica during certain time periods and how it affected employment and Jamaica's eventual independence from England. This ultimately affected all of the character's placement within Jamaican society. Lastly, the inclusion of Pao as a Chinese man, Gloria, his love interest, as an Afro-Jamaican, and Fay, his wife, as an Afro-Chinese Jamaican, was an effective way to demonstrate difference dimensions for each of their positions within Jamaican society. While Gloria was seen as a true Jamaican because she was of African descent, she struggled with her position within society as a Black woman, and Pao and Fay struggled with their identities in various ways as well (Pao being a Chinese man who emigrated to Jamaica, and Fay being bi-racial; not Black but not quite Chinese either, despite others seeing her as a Chinese woman). I think Young was very effective at painting these intersectional identities within the broader context of Jamaica during this time period and it made for a compelling story. Overall, a good read that was clearly well researched. Some parts of the story felt less meaningful than others and the book took awhile to pick up. Gloria, the second book in the series, is told from Gloria's perspective and while I enjoyed that book a bit more than Pao, this one was a great first start.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Klarissa

    "We come too far, we're not coming back now. We have a pride now. We have a place now. We have a mission now." I really fond of this book surprisingly. At first, I thought that the main focus of the story will be around the life of the main character, Pao, but turns out this book showed me more --- especially how the writer points out the importance of a context. The evolving daily life around Pao centered in the heart of Jamaica when that time the society fought for their independence against th "We come too far, we're not coming back now. We have a pride now. We have a place now. We have a mission now." I really fond of this book surprisingly. At first, I thought that the main focus of the story will be around the life of the main character, Pao, but turns out this book showed me more --- especially how the writer points out the importance of a context. The evolving daily life around Pao centered in the heart of Jamaica when that time the society fought for their independence against the British army and free themselves from the chain of imperialism. Their political aspirations and movements turned out not enough to entirely liberate them as a true, dignified, free people of Jamaica from the charm of imperialism. Foreign investors took control of the mainland business, factories, economic facilities. They were on the top of their game and Jamaican ironically still lived under the tyranny of injustice, poverty, crime, far apart from their prior aspirations. It was interesting to watch the mind intrigues and character development of Pao, the young immigrant moved from China to Jamaica for a better life, able to survive and try to live as a true Jamaican with all those political circumstances. The writer cleverly illustrates Pao, a Chinatown godfather whose money came from illegal sources and dealt with dirty business, with his ideals of equality and prosperous society, followed up the political movements inside the country and tried to stand up what he believed. Nevertheless, just like Gloria said in this book, "some people meant to rule the mass and sit in the government chair, but others just tried their best to find food to be served at their table." In a nutshell, it is a book about Jamaica's history and it is not a book about Jamaica's history. It is a book about Jamaican people and it is not a book about Jamaican people. Just like Kerry Young said, this book is about the world, and the universe, and the ten thousand things.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sheu Quen

    First off, I'm surprised that I actually managed to finish reading the book. The struggles I had were real! Not because the author couldn't write but because she wrote it from the main character's point of view, and the character doesn't actually have great English. Pao was a young boy from China when he landed in Jamaica with his mother and older brother whose journeys were planned and arranged by their father's friend called Zhang. There, he befriended Finley and Hampton, a couple of Jamaican b First off, I'm surprised that I actually managed to finish reading the book. The struggles I had were real! Not because the author couldn't write but because she wrote it from the main character's point of view, and the character doesn't actually have great English. Pao was a young boy from China when he landed in Jamaica with his mother and older brother whose journeys were planned and arranged by their father's friend called Zhang. There, he befriended Finley and Hampton, a couple of Jamaican boys and made an acquaintance with a prostitute by the name of Gloria. The book was narrated by Pao, told in his scrappy English of the political scenarios in Jamaica, the lives of its people, the occupants of Chinatown whom Pao was looking after with Zhang, and the rich histories of the country torn apart by the Americans, the British and other foreign conquerors. It was a tale that embraced the ups and downs of the Jamaicans, of how their lives were dictated by money-grubbing politicians, how money made the world go round (and all your problems disappear). It was an interesting story, but I'm not too sure about the way the book was written. As mentioned before in my review now and the comments each time I completed a chunk of reading progress, I found it hard to read and understand the English that came from Pao's mouth and thoughts. And with the second book by the same author but this time from Gloria's point of view, I'm not sure if I want to carry on reading like this. It was a headache trying to wrap my head around his words. I'm not sure if I can do the same for Gloria. Again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mohammed Alghamdi

    An interesting book that explores Jamaica of the 20th century, society and politics mostly, and the how different ethnicities interact with each other (especially the Chinese ethnicity). It is a new ground for me. What strikes you at first is the written language of the book. It isn't written in standard English. It is written in Jamaican Patois, or Creole English as linguists would say. There are sayings of Sun Tzu's The Art of War everywhere in the Book, which the main character uses in his de An interesting book that explores Jamaica of the 20th century, society and politics mostly, and the how different ethnicities interact with each other (especially the Chinese ethnicity). It is a new ground for me. What strikes you at first is the written language of the book. It isn't written in standard English. It is written in Jamaican Patois, or Creole English as linguists would say. There are sayings of Sun Tzu's The Art of War everywhere in the Book, which the main character uses in his dealings with the troubles and odds in his way. The story is nice, going through decades from the 1940s to the 1990s, and the characters (even though I personally hate the main character's wife) are very well rounded. Overall it is a treat to lovers of history, politics, diverse ethnicities getting together, and human relations most importantly. In the end, only the people who stay with you towards the end are those who count as the most precious thing money can't buy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pat Jennings

    A young boy immigrates from China to Jamaica. He is smart and has family guidance in becoming in running an underground operation. He falls in love with his friend/prostitute but marries a woman because of her family and wealth, a poor choice. He adores his two children who his wife eventually takes to England. In his grief, he attempts to resolve his complicated religious and philosophical beliefs, his true relationships, along with unraveling his distance from his daughter born out of wedlock A young boy immigrates from China to Jamaica. He is smart and has family guidance in becoming in running an underground operation. He falls in love with his friend/prostitute but marries a woman because of her family and wealth, a poor choice. He adores his two children who his wife eventually takes to England. In his grief, he attempts to resolve his complicated religious and philosophical beliefs, his true relationships, along with unraveling his distance from his daughter born out of wedlock to the woman he loves. I was spellbound by the way the author made this character so good and so maleficent at the same time. Pao's thoughts and conversations with himself were rich and drew me in. I felt like I could run into Pao and start a conversation as if I had known him all my life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe Ricca

    A very entertaining telling of Jamaican history. It reads like a compendium to The Art of War, in that the protagonist Pao can usually sum up a chapter with a verse from the aforementioned book. The story also explores the deep roots of racism from the point of view of the Chinatown boss, Pao. He is kind, fair and wise. Everything you wish in a leader, but are afraid to vote for. I put off reading this book. For almost a year it sat and stared at me from my Want To Read list, I'm glad I finally g A very entertaining telling of Jamaican history. It reads like a compendium to The Art of War, in that the protagonist Pao can usually sum up a chapter with a verse from the aforementioned book. The story also explores the deep roots of racism from the point of view of the Chinatown boss, Pao. He is kind, fair and wise. Everything you wish in a leader, but are afraid to vote for. I put off reading this book. For almost a year it sat and stared at me from my Want To Read list, I'm glad I finally got around to it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Insiya Shabbar

    This is the first time I have come across a book that is written entirely the way a young Chinese immigrant would speak English, the grammar is not perfect, but deliverence of thoughts and feelings of the protagonist are on point. The book takes us on a life-long journey of Pao, with the political history of Jamaica in context. The characters of this story are far from perfect. You hate them yet you route for them. It was an enjoyable read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Abbey (The Open Bookshelf)

    So many people forget about the Chinatowns of the West Indies, and so many people, when they think of Jamaica, only think of great food, smoking weed and Bob Marley. Kerry Young shows us another side of this diverse nation, and tells it with such precision that you can almost taste the sticky sweet air of the opium den and hear the creak of old tin.

  29. 4 out of 5

    MsSherlocked

    pao has an interesting premise, but in execution it is dull and lifeless. the language didn't help very much either.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I had to abandon this book I just got interrupted too often and couldn’t get back into it

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