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Book Review

‘Five Star Billionaire’ by Tash Aw

Early into “Five Star Billionaire,” Tash Aw’s patiently told and elaborately mapped round robin of a novel, a character recollects a family holiday in Sapporo, Japan, during his early teens. Chief among the trip’s highlights was the Snow Festival, one of those perverse annual rites common to many a northern burg, wherein iconic foreign sites such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Mount Rushmore, and Egyptian pyramids are fastidiously carved from nondescript humps of snow.

The author couldn’t have chosen a more cogent metaphor for the counterfeit personas and chilly hearts exhibited by his single-minded protagonists, who have all come to Shanghai to claim their piece of the new China’s skyrocketing wealth. And the deceits they commit in service of their ambitions are as cheap and abundant as the instant noodles they all seem to consume by the shovelful.

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