Book of the Month: The God of Luck


I actually read this book two years ago but stumbled across it the other day while decluttering my library shelf (i.e. trying desperately to find that overdue library book that probably–most likely–definitely–has been absorbed by the black hole that is my library shelf.) Since the book left a hugely lasting impression on me, I thought The God of Luck deserved to be features as the February book of the month.

Briefly, the book follows Ah Lung as he’s kidnapped and then tricked into indentured servitude as part of the “ccoolie trade” while his wife, Bo See, attempts to find a way to save him. The narrative is a blend of history and realism, told from the first-person testimonial perspectives of both Ah Lung and Bo See.

Without giving too much away, one of the reasons why the book has left such a lasting impression on me is the devastatingly “ambiguous” ending. What is ambiguous about the ending is not whether Ah Lung escapes his plight. Rather, what is “ambiguous” is the how of his escape. Suffice it to say, under no circumstances does anyone ever expect literature that wrestles with the physical, mental, and emotional effects of slavery to leave one feeling frölich. Even so, you can’t help but hope his is a fate different to his peers.

(Vague enough for you yet?)

As it were, there’s a lot to unpack in this novel (such as the parallels between the silk worm sections and Ah Lung’s imprisonment, etc) and I’d be interested on positing it beside another (perhaps A Plague of Doves?) which is why I urge you all to go out, find the book and read it. Just be read to sit around, despondent and shaken, for at least a day or two afterwards.

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