Mingzhi is the formidable Master Chai’s first grandson and groomed for a grand destiny from the very moment of his birth. But while Master Chai beats out orders with his dragon stick, there are threats to the future he has planned – from both within and without. Inside the mansion, there are secrets, lies, and plots; in the surrounding fields, there is the newly planted opium that signifies trouble ahead; and, further away, still, the foreign devils, intent on taking their own piece of the pie that is China.
“Like a good Chinese drawing but always in motion . . . with the same breadth of scope and wealth of characters as many great nineteenth-century novels” — ALASDAIR GRAY, TLS
“Chiew-Siah Tei is a master storyteller, and a rare talent, with that magical ability of being able to weave a spell over her readers, with riveting plots and prose that glows with life” — Time Out HK
‘… confines of the family mansion, the rivalries, adulteries, and jealousies, are all vividly evoked in fresh and exuberant prose.’ — New Books
‘Tei keeps the reader entertained with her graceful observations and steady handling of a significant slice of Chinese history.’ — Sunday Herald
‘Tei unfolds the story like a bolt of silk.’ — The Scotsman
‘The book has a tempo of its own… Sit down with a large cup of coffee and enjoy. Recommended.’ — Historical Novels Review
‘The strength of the book, is its portrayal of individuals struggling as the world around them changes.’ — Financial Times
‘[a] lengthy but accessible historical saga…For such a populous story the style is deceptively light, the touch sensuous.’ — Guardian
Chiew-Siah Tei was born and raised in Tampin, Malaysia. A writer who is keen on experimenting with form and medium, Tei produces works that range across literature, film and theatre, in both Chinese and English. She has won awards for her Chinese prose, including the Hua Zong International Chinese Fiction Award. The short film she wrote the script for, Night Swimmer, won Best Short Film at the Vendome International Film Festival, and her play, Three Thousand Troubled Threads, was staged at the Edinburgh International Festival. Her first novel, Little Hut of Leaping Fishes, won Audience Choice Award (Malaysia), and listed for the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize and Best Scottish Fiction Prize. The Mouse Deer Kingdom came third in the Audience Choice Award.