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281 pages, Mass Market Paperback
First published May 1, 1994
"[...] looking at the people moving past us, and they seemed to me for a minute as they must have seemed to Herman Leong all the time: insubstantial, and temporary wisps of momentary history that flickered past, while behind him was the long, unchanging, overpowering weight of his race that bore upon the illusory moment [...]"As to humor, in addition to the epigraph quote, the reader can find a few hilarious passages of sexual innuendo like, for instance
"'Do you wish my flower were like a polished pearl?' Susan said.The Chinese graduate student, Mei Ling, who serves as Spenser's interpreter, is the most memorable character in the novel. There is also a thin layer of seriousness about the "have-nots" and racial conflicts in the society: Spenser is stunned by the subhuman living conditions of Chinese immigrants in Massachusetts. The reader may also be surprised by how much the language standards have changed in the recent years: the book was published only 27 years ago, yet I am afraid it would be criticized today for "insensitive language."
'I'm an old-fashioned guy,' I said. 'I prefer the original, so to speak, unprocessed model.'"