The Evergreen Tea House is a deftly crafted, provocative and poignant tale – blending mismatched love and twisted ambition with political intrigue and diplomatic mendacity. Set in Hong Kong during the twilight years of British rule, the characters live through tumultuous events – the Japanese occupation, the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution and the emotional trauma associated with the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
The unique and noteworthy element of this novel, beyond its strong evocation of time and place and its careful melding of facts with fiction, is its interpretation of historical events through a Chinese perspective.
Review by Dr. Frances Wood, Curator of the Chinese Collections at the British Library, in the Royal Society for Asian Affairs journal
“David Wong is a brilliant observer of the tradition versus modernity problem, which had dogged China since the end of the 19th century … He also brings his own experience as a (very senior) Hong Kong civil servant into the story with illuminating anecdotes. There is a great deal to be learnt in this novel, as one races through the many-layered stories. And one is left with a strong sense of the author as a deep thinker and a man of high principles.
Review by Jeremy Trafford in the PEN International Magazine
“David Wong has all the powers of empathy that a novelist requires above all other virtues. . . . It is the breadth and detail of the political picture and the imaginative involvement of contrasting and opposing points of view that give this novel its fascination.”
A book review by Dr. Frances Wood, Curator of the Chinese Collections in the British Library, in the Journal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs
Though most of the novel is set in Hong Kong, it is a novel about ideas provoked by Hong Kong. Issues such as the opportunities bravely seized by young entrepreneurs during the devastating period of Japanese occupation, the relationship of businessmen and crooks, religion and morality in business, the place of tradition, whether it is connoisseurship of calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting or the tea house as a meeting place and the handover in 1997 are all addressed through the actions and thoughts of the characters…
A book review by Jeremy Trafford in PEN International Magazine Vol.54 2004
The author describes this as a Hong Kong novel, but the scene extends to include mainland China, Taiwan, North Korea and South Vietnam in a narrative that spans the thirty three years between 1952 and 1985, and, through the reminiscences of the older characters, the earlier period of the Japanese occupation. The focus is wide, and the viewpoints are varied – the thrusting individualism of a young Hong Kong entrepreneur, Xavier, who is impatient with the religious and cultural traditions of the past that his parents venerate, is tellingly contrasted with the political aspirations of the Communist party activist, Cheng Ching, the portrait of whom is one of the distinctive achievements of the novel…
A book review in City Weekend, Shanghai on September 2-15, 2004
Chu Wing-Seng, the son of a self-made Hong Kong millionaire and Cheng Ching, the son of a revolutionary farmer in Anhui Village eight hundred miles away from Hong Kong. The two protagonists’ lives are subtlety woven into a rational and well-balanced portrayal of personal and political events that occurred between 1952 and 1985 in the SAR and the Chinese mainland…
Book Review by Tervor Clark in SINE Magazine of the Scotland-China Association
The Evergreen Teahouse takes us from 1952 to 1985 from the Korean War to the Joint Declaration. We follow the fortunes from boyhood of two sons: one of a successful businessman who had tried to be a good Confucian: the other of a disabled veteran of the Long March who had tried to be a good Party Secretary (in Anhui). The former deracinated by America becomes the archetypal tycoon and established pillar whose less public life brings him to a sticky end…