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The World of Suzie Wong

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  982 ratings  ·  94 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
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published 1960 by Signet Books (first published 1957)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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J
Feb 24, 2012 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
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Michael
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Susan
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Shu Xiao
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Marlan Warren
Mar 14, 2014 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
Fiona Scott-clarke
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Erika
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was ok
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. ...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
Markus Innocenti
Apr 14, 2013 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
Jane Tara
May 09, 2013 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
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Sam
Mar 07, 2014 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.
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Bora
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Stephanie
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
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Laura Besley
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Living in Hong Kong, i've wanted to read this for a long time. Finally got round to it. Was great to read about this city in the 1950s and the story was also very compelling. ...more
Bill
The World of Suzie Wong is my first exposure to the work of English writer Richard Mason. Mason lived from 1919 - 1997 and over the course of his life he wrote six novels. Suzie Wong was his fifth novel and written in 1957. The book was converted to a movie in 1960, starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan. The book had that feel to it, in my mind, you know, a Sunday afternoon matinee on TCM.

Suzie Wong is a Chinese prostitute, a bar girl, who works in Hong Kong. Robert Lomax is an Englishman. The
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Julie
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert, a young artist moves to Hong Kong to concentrate on his painting career. Looking for a cheap place to live and paint, he ends up in a “brothel” where the all occupants pay by the hour except him. Robert gets to know the “girls” as friends but ends up in an up and down relationship with the beautiful Suzie. Written in 1957, it was made into a film with William Holden and Nancy Kwan.
Terteach1
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book takes you to an era and world that is no more. I have been fascinated with Asian culture since reading as a teenager all the books of Pearl S Buck. The main character Suzie is so vulnerable and yet of such strong backbone it makes you weep. She is all at once naive, wise, vulnerable and fierce. The ending gets a bit muddled otherwise I would have given it 5 stars. It gives you an insight into the culture of the time in Hong Kong. If you are tired of all the romance authors of the day, ...more
Paul Magnussen
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is easily the best romantic novel, and one of the best books of any kind, that I have ever read. It is also sad, funny, perceptive and extremely unusual.

Based to a large extent on the author’s own travels and experiences, it is the story of the Briton Robert Lomax who (after trying and failing to make his way in various businesses such as rubber-planting) decides to jack it in for a while and use his savings to follow his dream, which is to be an artist.

So he moves into a small hotel in Hon
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Zoe Carney
Jun 20, 2014 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
Mars
Nov 19, 2012 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
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George
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook-st
MY FAVORITE FAIRY TALE.

“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
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Alexandra
Sep 03, 2012 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
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Susan
Nov 23, 2014 added it
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
Crystal Redington
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Robert
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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." ...more
Charles
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Erin
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book, although perhaps more interesting since I could identify the locations mentioned and the aspects of culture written about. Highly recommended as a unique love story.
Celia Thrash
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a great book - it's a don't miss. A true picture of Hing Kong. Beautiful love story with strong characters. ...more
Paul Cornelius
A blurb on the back cover of my copy of The World Suzie Wong compared it to the work of W. Somerset Maugham. This is a dreadful mistake. About the only similarity between Suzie Wong and the works of Maugham is that Suzie's protagonist, Robert Lomax, starts out on a Malayan rubber plantation. From that plantation he moves to Hong Kong to pursue an interest in painting. And, here, Mason creates a work of fiction that is of Hong Kong, not just set in Hong Kong. That is the difference. Maugham's wor ...more
C.
This is mostly what you would expect from the blurb on the back of the book. English artist rents room in an hourly hotel, falls in love with prostitute. Not my usual reading material. And I can't say it did any favors for my pre-existing prejudice against expats.

That said, descriptions of Hong Kong in the Fifties were interesting and, as far as I can tell, accurate. The author had clearly spent time in Hong Kong and did a good job re-creating the atmosphere. While I can't say much for his tast
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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.

Mason w
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