The World of Suzie Wong
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The World of Suzie Wong

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  434 ratings  ·  54 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...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 1960 by Signet Books (first published 1957)
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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...more
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
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...more
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
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

“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...more
Jane Tara
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...more
Zoe Carney
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
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.
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...more
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
Celia Thrash
What a great book - it's a don't miss. A true picture of Hing Kong. Beautiful love story with strong characters.
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
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
Markus Innocenti
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
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.
Entertaining . . . different. Robert Lomax quits his job because he want to see if he can make it as a painter. He moves to China where he moves into an apartment above a bar which is always frequented by sailors for reasons you can imagine. He becomes very friendly with all the 'bar girls' and love happens. Not the typical story. While reading this book, one must always remember it is called "Suzie's World" . . . not "Robert's World."
Precise potrayl of the Asian way of life- the co existence of the old with the adapted elements, the emotions, the insecurity and the struggle of an Asian lady in the profession of a prostitute.

However a tad too over romantic for my taste, the fairy tale quality of the romance made it all the more unbelievable. Other than that, a superb book- my 1st about an oriental escapade
This is a very old novel, written in 1957. I have always heard of it, but never read it. My recollection is that this story of an artist's affair with a Chinese prostitute in Hong Kong was very risque at the time, but I doubt it would be considered very "dirty" now.
* * * * *
It was a good book with an interesting story, very conservative for a book about prostitutes.
Entertaining, though could've used a bit more sophisticated editorial overview. Particularly progressive in treatment of Asians and prostitution for its time. It's a must-read for Hong Kong expats for its depiction of HK in the 50's from a writer who lived it. Mason apparently never wrote successfully again and retired living largely off the success of this book.
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.
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.
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!
This book screams old hong kong.
Do not expect to really see much of the current hong kong in it. I read it while living here and really enjoyed it.
Didn't care much for the ending, but Suzie is an amazing character and I see why she captivated the hong kong literary audience year's ago.
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.
I first thought this book was a reminder of Orientalist schlock from the 50s, and to a certain extent it's true. However, by the end of the novel you do feel that there is something very human and genuine about the main characters, and you give the novel a pass because of this.
I read this when I was 12 (with my mom's permission of course. I am like 17 now). I find it boring. (I WAS TWELVE!!) But the story was so sad. I love how real the story, the characters and everything were, are. But it was still boring. Isnt exactly my taste. So yeah.
Timeless piece- can be enjoyed today as much as it would be enjoyed 50 years from now. Visiting Hong Kong assists the reader by with sounds, tastes and scenary. Also I don't think I'll ever forget the phrase 'dirty little yum yum girl'!
I enjoyed this book very much and couldn't stop reading it! Now I will go finish watching the movie - but the book is far superior based on the first hour of the film. Hong Kong in 1958 seems like a very interesting place!
Giving this book some leeway for the year that it was published, Suzie Wong turned out to be far less yellow feverish than I thought it might be. Enjoyable and engrossing read, a great peek into late '50s Wan Chai!
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Author shelving issue. 1 7 Apr 03, 2013 11:12PM  
  • Fragrant Harbor
  • Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood
  • The Sand Pebbles
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  • Kowloon Tong: A Novel of Hong Kong
  • Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China
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  • Sounds of the River: A Young Man's University Days in Beijing
  • Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas
  • Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China
  • Miss Chopsticks
  • Family
  • Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China
  • My Splendid Concubine
  • Farewell My Concubine
  • From the Terrace
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  • Lonely Planet: China
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
More about Richard Mason...
The Wind Cannot Read Suzie Wong The fever tree Suzie Wong (Book, #2) Suzie Wong (Book, #1)

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