In Hong Kong, leading up to the fraught handover from British to Chinese rule, a recovering heroin addict returns to Hong Kong's last shanty town and tries to salvage what's left of a place he hoped to forget.
The narrator, nicknamed Buddha, is a recovered heroin addict who has been given shelter in a local convent, but though this naturally allies him with the nuns, he finds a second home in the streets, befriending a starlet-turned-prostitute and her fearless teenage daughter, who has been the mafia’s point person for the drug trade since she was a child ... The dark drama that unfolds is an elegy to that vanished vanishing world.
A lost soul is stuck between the slums and salvation ... Fan deftly mixes the sacred with the profane, often on the same page. Just when you decide there’s no room for holiness amid the wreckage, you realize there may in fact be no other option. An introduction to a seamy slice of Hong Kong—plus a convent.
Fan brings poetic language and moving tributes to descriptions of the lost neighborhood ... As the characters try to flee their unhappy pasts, the novel’s aching beauty makes an effective argument for remembering.