A book review on The Evergreen Teahouse 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.
We follow Chu Wing-Seng across the world to America, Cheng Ching meanwhile joins the army and serves in Korea. We follow their lives back, the complications. the decisions and their personal frivolities. Hidden family secrets. Murder and revenge. Lost loves and wasted lives. Learning to sip tea discloses more than meets the eye.
We stumble across Sebastian Baxingdale. a young Daily Mail correspondent and Lucille, a young American of Chinese origin. Their intriguing insights elucidate the spiralling web. What the reality of “saving face” really means.
What makes this book different from the myriad of those written on China, is that it does not ask for any pity. David T.K.Wong leads us into modern day Hong Kong. His authority cannot be disputed. Born and bred in Hong Kong, having studied at Stanford, followed by a fellowship at Oxford and one at the Hague, then working for the Hong Kong government and a successful author of a variety of short stories, he is well worth the read.
What exactly happens at a teahouse? Can foreigners actually comprehend the undercurrents? Are we perceptible to the changing tides? Do we know when we are in too deep?
The Evergreen Teahouse is an engaging read for those who want a rare glimpse at the political undercurrents and human aspirations that have shaped Hong Kong’s re-unification with China . | NS