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The World of Suzie Wong

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  615 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
The timeless story of the love affair between a British artist and a Chinese prostitute.

Robert is the only resident of the Nam Kok hotel not renting his room by the hour when he meets Suzie at the bar. She becomes his muse and they fall in love. But even in Hong Kong, where many white expatriates have Chinese mistresses, their romance could jeopardize the things they each
Paperback, 318 pages
Published June 1959 by Fontana Books (first published 1957)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,211)
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Feb 26, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What delight this book is.

I love HK. I wish the HK of today was like that of the one I first visited in 1988, let alone how wonderful it muust have been as portrayed in the late 50s of this book.

The world is not only Suzie's. It is that of HK. The "yum-yum" girls of the dance halls and the bars. The sailors who visit this huge port when their ships dock. And the ex-pat community.

Not only is Suzie a finely drawn character, so are her friends and along with Robert and his connections with the ex
Feb 17, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i had never previously read about anyone that told my story so closely. the conflicts that robert lomax experienced about suzie wong working in a bar will be viewed very differently depending on whether the reader is male or female, young or old. richard mason couldn't pull that story from his imagination , he had to live it. i tried to read mason's other books and couldn't. i read that mason said he stopped writing because he had nothing else to say. thankfully he wrote suzie wong before he sto ...more
Tom Carter
Dec 15, 2014 Tom Carter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Richard Mason's Suzie Wong for the first time during my first trip to Hong Kong. I was less lucky in finding a hooker who wanted to be my girlfriend than the protagonist Robert Lomax, but the book nonetheless was a great trip down the seedy lanes of Hong Kong past. I even referred to it in a travel article I penned about today's Wan Chai girls:

"DAY 6: I give the Island another chance and take the night ferry across the harbor to the north end’s older and seedier nightspot, the infamous Wa
Shu Xiao
Aug 19, 2016 Shu Xiao rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the fictions written by Western authors about "mysterious Asians" this one is probably my favorite now. Im completely fascinated by the story. I don't know how Richard Mason did it, but all of those details put you back in time, alongside Suzie Wong and her lover and sisters, in Hong Kong. There is just the right amount of sorrow AND happiness to make it work. Great love story too.
Jun 29, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book 15 years ago and remembered enjoying it, but recently I re-watched the movie, so picked the book up again. It's amazing how much of the story the film cut out of the book. I thought Richard Mason did a great job of portraying a certain part of Hong Kong during the late 50s and the different people who inhabited--or simply visited--Wanchai. The end was downright thrilling and even sinister when they were in seedy Macau. It's too bad the film cut out that part. If you're going to ...more
Marlan Warren
Jul 10, 2014 Marlan Warren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I picked up an ancient copy of this book from a free bin without much hope that I would like it. But I could not have been more wrong in my assumptions. Instead of the prurient, racist plotline that I expected, I found this to be an extremely well written and thoughtful book. Richard Mason was unafraid to address head-on issues that would have been taboo to discuss at the time it was written, and he defines the character of Suzie Wong with honesty and compassion for who she is. She is not the "s ...more
Zoe Carney
Jun 27, 2014 Zoe Carney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book came up on a recommended list when I was searching for novels set in Hong Kong, and I'm glad I decided to read it. It bears no resemblance to modern day Hong Kong, of course - it's set in the 1950s, with all the attendant romance of a colony so very sure of itself, and told from the point of view of a man in love with the city and its people and disillusioned with the West. But as a story, a love story, it holds up surprisingly well, with lots of sharp little details like the prostitut ...more
Mar 02, 2012 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook-st

“Reminiscent of Somerset Maugham at his storytelling best… Suzie Wong is enchanting.” [New York Herald Tribune]—page 2

The first time I read ‘The World of Suzie Wong’ telephones all had rotary dials and stayed mostly in one place, car windows had handles with knobs to roll them up and down, the latest electronic marvel was the transistor radio, and Hong Kong still had almost forty years remaining as a dirty, though romantic, British Crown Colony. A half-century later and Ri
Nov 07, 2014 Alexandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Not sure how well this has aged.... On the one hand, some of the painful expat stereotypes are alive and well, as are the somewhat strained relations between westerners in Hong Kong and the local Chinese population. Certain inequalities are alive now- Wanchai is still the red light district and a seedy dive, it is lacking in some of the nostalgic, colonial vibes that colour this novel.
Certain melodramatic elements don't ring true and leave the reader feeling cold. Saying any more on the subjec
Written in the 1950s, this book has been dusted off by those interested in Hong Kong and China. Rather than reflecting the ugliest of 50s stereotypes, the book is more nuanced about Hong Kong and the Cantonese. Despite being progressive for its time, there are moments in which ugliness peaks through and I found this very interesting. As Mason tries to be open and accepting of the Cantonese, he still has deep assumptions about gender and race. But this is a page-turner with interesting characters ...more
Chris Wharton
A totally unexpected surprise. Recalling an old movie of the same name (which I've never seen), I picked it up from the library where a new paperback “cult classic” edition was on the “Did you miss these?” shelf. I was amazed to read a 1957 novel that captivated me from start to finish with the Hong Kong romance of expatriate artist Robert and local prostitute Suzie, an “exotic” setting and eccentric cast of characters, and a forthright, ahead-of-its-times portrayal of both a sexual underground ...more
Jane Tara
May 09, 2013 Jane Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-time-faves
Another book I adored as a teen, and I'm so thrilled to see it has been rereleased. I'll be reading this again soon.

I first read this when I was about thirteen, and then at least another four times while I was still at school. I can remember the impact the setting had on me--Asia! The Far East... I was utterly obsessed by it. (I have since lived in various parts of Asia for many years, and my sons are Eurasian.)

I look forward to reading this again and seeing if it still holds a 5 star rating. I
Markus Innocenti
Apr 14, 2013 Markus Innocenti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very evocative and thoughtfully written novel that could have trodden a well-worn path into cheap exploitation but didn't. I was aware of this book as a child, mostly because of Tsai Chin's hit song from the Lionel Bart musical. I haven't seen the William Holden/Nancy Kwan movie, but I don't see how it could translate to the screen. It's a skilful example of British writing from the very end of the colonial period - which is why it's compared to Somerset Maugham, I suppose - and it's a classic o ...more
Mar 18, 2014 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In spite of the setting, this is a well-written love story that crosses cultures and social strata. Suzie often keeps her thoughts hidden, which enhances the drama in certain portions because we never really know what she is thinking or how she will act. Far from being a callous, shallow individual, she is in fact a very complex and endearing woman.

I was sad when I reached the end of the book because I wish the story could have continued. Will definitely re-read this one in a few years' time.
Parveen Harnam
I came across this book in the bookstore and thought it would be a new read, a different reading experience. It is that in a lot of ways, it has a unique appeal, probably because the book was written so many years ago. In the first 100 or so pages, one would not have known that this was a book that was written before Malaya became Malaysia, in the 1950s. Apart from one or two instances, it felt so modern in those first few pages. I loved that he started with his experience in Malaya, as I almost ...more
Fiona Scott-clarke
Found this on my father's bookshelf and thought I'd give it a try. Thoroughly enjoyed it, such lovely storytelling. I felt as though I was right there although I only know the new Hong Kong. Even though it was set in a different time, it still reminded me of my favorite places around the island. Wouldn't recommend the movie though.
Mar 12, 2012 Bora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a simple story, and really simple dialogue too but Suzie Wong feels so real and their love felt so reasl. After I finished the book I had a hard time believing she didn't actually exist. Some people may find parts of the book rather culturally insensitive but let's remember folks that the book was written in the 50s.
Rose Ann
This book has not aged well. But Suzie is ageless, and I loved her. Funny, if this book were written today, Suzie (obviously very sharp and intelligent) would have perhaps found a different fulfillment. But she is a vivid character and I liked spending this time with her.
Feb 12, 2014 Gina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A classic indeed! I love how the story started at a just-nice tempo, but it simply got way too much slower as I flipped the pages. There was no drive for me to keep turning the pages. But the descriptive writing is commendable!
Jul 03, 2007 Erika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pretty much just as racist & misogynist as you'd expect it to be. Like a fucking biography of every dirty old cheek-toucher in Lan Kwai Fong.
Celia Thrash
Sep 21, 2014 Celia Thrash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book - it's a don't miss. A true picture of Hing Kong. Beautiful love story with strong characters.
April Cabello-Arshad
Sep 13, 2016 April Cabello-Arshad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The World of Suzie Wong successfully transported me to Hong Kong of the mid-1950s. It is both a great and easy read, if you are open to a melodramatic love story, with bits of emotional roller coaster ride.

I found this novel at Dymocks in Melbourne when I was visiting family last December. I didn’t have a lot of expectations and the only reason why I bought it (aside from it being on sale) was that the backdrop of the story is Hong Kong, one of my favorite cities in Asia.

As it turned out, The Wo
Jan 03, 2013 Mars rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: senior-year-hs
I enjoyed reading this book a lot. I think it is a really nice love story and Richard Mason's beautiful style of writing makes it one of those books that feels very smooth and flowing to read, so I found I could easily get into the story. Suzie is such a lovable and interesting character.

Furthermore, in the beginning of the book in the little about-the-author paragraph, it says that "the intersection of East and West" in postwar Hong Kong is what inspired Mason to write this book. Indeed, cross
Even for its time this book is mind numbingly horrid.

Humbert Humbert is a more sympathetic character than the self absorbed, hateful, arrogant, racist, arrested-development fuckwit character who narrates this story.

Just read the scenes with Suzie's baby.

Pretty much a huge waste of time and paper, and will make you feel slightly ill afterwards into the bargain.
Dec 13, 2014 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book I'd normally have chosen but it was in the Free bin in front of 2nd & Charles so figured I'd give it a shot. The tale of a restless man who decides to love as an artist in a foreign country and becomes a friend to the bar girls in Hong Kong who depend on the sailors coming into port to ply their trade. The author manages to make them mostly sympathetic characters and makes a point of how pompous and racist the society types could be. Despite some sad times, ultimately it's a hopef ...more
Crystal Redington
The world of suzie wong, is a novel where a british artist falls for his model Suzie Wong a chinese prostitute. For her beauty captivates him the moment hes first lays eyes on her but, she a woman that is very hard to get. No matter how hard Suzie tries to push him away, Robert Lomax is persistant in winning her. Though I have seen the movie version with William Holden so many times, I never thought there was more to the story than I expected. Do give Richard Mason's fabulious novel reading time ...more
Nov 12, 2013 Mehmet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I brought this book in Hong Kong, and yes before you ask i had a great holiday and also a great read. This was a extremely emotional rollercoster ride of a love story. You truly feel for every single character and i mean that in a postive and negative way. This book has people so real that you almost believe you can touch them. You want to curse them if they do wrong, you want to confort them when sad. I cried at the end.... i will not say why. Hong Kong is vividly brought to life and yes Chines ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Deke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a 3.5, an excellent airplane read, transporting you back to post WWII Hong Kong at its most bohemian
Feb 09, 2013 M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not really my cup of tea. Although, having been published in 1957, it was refreshingly free of gutter language and explicit sexual play-by-play commentary, there was still way more detail about the prostitutes plying their trade than I cared to read about. I started to abandon it more than once, but some slight charm in the characterization and storyline kept me plugging along. By the end, though I didn't wholly agree with the author's implied conclusions about love, sex, marriage, God, and huma ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Marg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A nostalgic re-read of a much-loved old favourite.
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Author shelving issue. 1 8 Apr 03, 2013 11:12PM  
  • Family and Friends
  • Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China
  • Green Mountain, White Cloud: A Novel of Love in the Ming Dynasty
  • The China Lover
  • Dance While You Can
  • Gweilo: Memories Of A Hong Kong Childhood
  • Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas
  • The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama
  • Dream of Ding Village
  • Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China
  • The Sand Pebbles
  • Peking
  • Petals From The Sky
  • The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker
  • Lust, Caution: The Story
  • Village of Stone
  • Beijing Coma
  • The Heart of the Country
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Richard Mason was a British novelist. Born near Manchester, he was educated in Dorset, then worked first on a film magazine and later for the British Council. The Second World War gave him a chance to learn Japanese and he became an interrogator of prisoners of war.

As an a
More about Richard Mason...

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