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The Foreigner: A Novel Paperback – May 27 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (May 27 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312364040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312364045
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #683,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In Lin's stunning debut, a crime novel set in Taiwan, Emerson Chang, a 40-year-old virgin who's a financial analyst, travels from San Francisco to Taipei on a quest to scatter his mother's ashes and re-establish contact with his shady younger brother, Little P, who's been bequeathed the family hotel. At a meeting with Little P, Chang encounters two peculiar cousins, Poison and Big One, as well as Little P's devious friend, Li An-Qing (aka Atticus), who's anxious to get Little P to sell the family hotel to him. Emerson soon finds himself mixed up in machinations involving Atticus and extortion due to Little P's unsavory dealings. In addition, Emerson loses his job back in California, and the property he's inherited in Taipei turns out to have its own mysteries. Chang's distinctive voice propels a strong and original plot, with horrifying revelations. Taut, smart and often funny, this novel will satisfy readers of thrillers and general fiction alike. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Genre-wise, The Foreigner is best described as a thriller, rife with murders, drugs, secrets and betrayals. But you won't find any of the cardboard characters, clunky writing, or clichéd conventions that too often mar suspense fiction. Lin is equally attentive to description and plot. . . . Lovely, detailed writing makes you care about what happens to these characters. . . . A sequel would prove most welcome.” ―Los Angeles Times

“Lin demonstrates admirable range and skill in The Foreigner. She's capable of writing both marvelous humor and scenes of utter darkness in her tale of a naive man at a complete loss for dealing with the world.” ―San Francisco Chronicle

“Lin has much to say about the clast of East and West and the sometimes shaky bonds of family, wrapping her sly observations in an entertaining coating of ever-propulsive narrative that turns Emerson from a rich boy into a warier, sleeker, wiser man.” ―The Baltimore Sun

“[A] darkly funny debut.” ―Kirkus Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 28 reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing and Tedious July 28 2009
By Buzz - Published on
Format: Paperback
Because of the good reviews and the award that The Foreigner received, I read the entire book, but, about half way through, I think it was sheer stubbornness that kept me going. The synopsis of the plot promised much, but failed to deliver. The motivations of the characters was never explained; apparently their actions were clear enough for the writer. Although there was some suspense about the nature of the activities of the Twainese brother, it was drawn out and by the time I found out what it did, I had long ago ceased to care. The protagonist, although admirable in many respects, was not interesting and, again, his character and motivations were not explained. As for the two cultures, Chinese and American, there was no attempt by the author to devle into them, and this book in no way added to my understanding of the Chinese experience in the US or the expat experience in Tawain. Ultimately, I felt disappointed in myself for spending the time to finish the novel. Francie Lin is a talented writer, but this novel is only a beginning, one with which I did not need to be associated.
20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
He sounds like a woman Aug. 28 2008
By T. Wang - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this book was because my friend gave it to me as a gift and as a Taiwanese. I thought it would be fun to read a intercultural story which was about to my hometown.

I really have to say this story features a very unlikable character. Emerson, our leading man, has no personality. He said bunch Intellectual stuff and tried to express some emotion here there. However, I never felt authentic about this character and had hard time to have sympathy toward his situation in the story.
Especially, to me, Emerson sounded like a ~~ woman. That made me wonder if Lin was able to separate herself when she was writing about this male character.

Anyway, the biggest problem for me is that the weak characters fail to lead me deeper into the story but I am glad that Lin chose Taipei, my home city as the background for her story.

Thanks very much.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not as good as I was expecting May 6 2010
By dd676 - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This novel was just OK, not at all as suspenseful as I hoped. I actually had a hard time paying attention, it never really captured me. I guess it was just hard to empathize at all with the main character, which goes to perhaps its strong suit: exposing casual mystery readers such as myself to an entirely different culture. As pure entertainment though it falls short.
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
"Death isn't the worst of it. The worst is when you die and keep on living." June 22 2008
By Luan Gaines - Published on
Format: Paperback
In a harrowing novel that plucks a devoted, nearly forty-year-old son from his mother's side in America to the unfamiliar alleys of the Taiwanese criminal underground, Lin delivers a tale that is unpredictable and filled with unnamed menace. Emerson Chang, the dutiful son, has always done his best, attentive to his mother as the years pass, a woman inordinately proud of her motel, the Remada, her livelihood as an immigrant. A reliable employee faithfully devoted to his mother's needs, Emerson has met every demand, except one, meeting for dinner and a scolding every week. But so far, this bachelor has not found "one of our kind" to marry, all his mother requires for contentment. Meanwhile, younger brother, Little P, has gone back to Taipei, where he has remained for the last ten years, avoiding contact with his family in America. After his mother's sudden death, a grieving Emerson receives even more troubling news: the Remada has been left exclusively to Little P, the favorite son.

Emerson is to inherit a piece of property in his parent's home country, a former residence. Further, he is to deliver her ashes to Little P in Taipei for a proper burial. Motel documents in hand, a still-shocked son travels to meet his younger brother, with no idea how the boy might have changed. Their reunion is not propitious, Little P holding a knife at Emerson's throat until he realizes who he is. Little P's face is battered, ragged stitches across his face from a recent altercation, a sign that life might not be as stable as Emerson's years in America. With no language skills save English, Emerson depends on Little P for translation as he meets a variety of shady cousins and a mute old uncle who owns the karaoke bar where Little P works, the club shabby and filled with rowdy groups, gambling, drinking, all of this environment confusing to Emerson as he vainly tries to make a connection with Little P other than a financial transaction. But Little P will not be pinned down, hinting at dark and unforgivable deeds and current danger, always on the move and desperate for money, a world of shadows and lies.

Lin's Taipei is a maze of chattering crowds and unpredictable events, a volatile political landscape and the pervasive corruption of the criminal underground, of which Little P seems to be such a vital part. Clutching his mother's ashes, Emerson bravely follows Little P from one violence-fraught situation to another, appealing to his brother's dormant emotions while Little P evades and dissembles. A charming, if clumsy romanticist, Emerson meets two women on his adventure, the lovely Grace and the foul-mouthed, good-natured Angel, neither of which can solve his particular predicament. In over his head, Emerson accidentally accrues a huge gambling debt, pursued by his cousin, Poison, who demands money or revenge- on Little P, Grace, or Angel, even Emerson if need be. As the danger ratchets up, so does Emerson's determination to help his brother and reclaim their relationship. With brilliant precision, Lin sets the stage for a chilling confrontation, like a train wreck, ugly facts are revealed to a stunned Emerson, an unwelcome acknowledgment of a world filled with greed, ambition and betrayal. Freed from fear, Emerson embraces this truth with renewed will: "Living: that was the only kind of immortality there was." Luan Gaines/2008.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Paul Auster special Aug. 2 2010
By adiron - Published on
Verified Purchase
This is a crazy strange book in which the purpose of the action defines the soul of the protagonist. The action does not stand alone, and is not the point. It's a disturbing book; as I became more involved and finished it, my mood mirrored Emerson, the main character. Saying that, I realize Ms. Lin is trusting her readers to join the ride, which I did. The ride is epitomized in the scene where Emerson and his 'girlfriend' are hiding in a dark cocoon like booth that suddenly turns on and takes them on a strange automobile ride. If anything, I'm reminded of Paul Auster.