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Doing It His Way

Adam Mars-Jones, 11 May 1995

Brownout on Breadfruit Boulevard 
by Timothy Mo.
Paddleless, 286 pp., £13.99, April 1995, 0 9524193 0 0
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... with it? By that yardstick, Brownout on Breadfruit Boulevard is a novel thousands of times over. Timothy Mo has decided to go solo with this book, and has set up his own press for the purpose. This is not vanity publishing as that phrase is normally understood (Mo has in the past made money for himself and his ...

Ten Days that Shook Me

Alan Bennett, 15 September 1988

... the Great Britain-USSR Society. My colleagues were the novelists Paul Bailey, Christopher Hope and Timothy Mo (who also writes for Boxing News), the poet Craig Raine (who doesn’t) and the playwright Sue Townsend of Adrian Mole fame. I had many misgivings about the trip, particularly in regard to creature comforts. I wondered, for instance, if the ...


John Lanchester, 9 May 1991

The Redundancy of Courage 
by Timothy Mo.
Chatto, 408 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7011 3748 7
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... have been told, ‘my advice to you is, stick to nutters – they’re what you do best.’) If Timothy Mo doesn’t have what one would exactly call a USP – lots of good writers don’t – he certainly has a preferred setting and a preferred type of central character. The setting has to do with the juxtaposition of cultures, and the character is a ...

The Education of Gideon Chase

Paul Edwards, 5 June 1986

An Insular Possession 
by Timothy Mo.
Chatto, 593 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 7011 3078 4
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The Story of Zahra 
by Hanan al-Shaykh.
Quartet, 184 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 0 7043 2546 2
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The Lightning of August 
by Jorge Ibarguengoitia.
Chatto, 117 pp., £8.95, May 1986, 0 7011 3950 1
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... so squarely within the racist convention of the comic ‘Chinaman’ – seven pages into Timothy Mo’s novel about the first Opium War. Is this shameful convention, with its ‘all rightees’ and ‘yes Missees’, being endorsed as mimetically accurate by a writer at home in both English and Chinese cultures? If he does endorse it, he does so ...


John Sutherland, 6 May 1982

Headbirths, or The Germans are dying out 
by Günter Grass, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Secker, 136 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 436 18777 9
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The Skating Party 
by Marina Warner.
Weidenfeld, 180 pp., £6.95, April 1982, 0 297 78113 8
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Sour Sweet 
by Timothy Mo.
Deutsch, 252 pp., £7.95, April 1982, 0 233 97365 6
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At Freddie’s 
by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 182 pp., £6.50, March 1982, 0 00 222064 4
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... intensity, the gradual build-up to a melodramatic finish is genuinely gripping. Timothy Mo has hit on what could be a rich and serially extendable vein of comic fiction. Sour Sweet tells an everyday story of the Chinese carry-out trade from an unusual, reverse-shot angle – theirs. The novel is set in the 1960s, and chronicles a period ...

Luck Dispensers

Penelope Fitzgerald, 11 July 1991

The Kitchen God’s Wife 
by Amy Tan.
HarperCollins, 415 pp., £14.99, June 1991, 0 00 223708 3
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... do not work’. Corresponding to this mix-up are the beguiling variations of spoken English. (Timothy Mo has said that his Hong Kong novel, An Insular Possession, is essentially about language.) Amy Tan indicates particularly well the differences between Chinese speaking Chinese to each other, Chinese speaking fluent American and broken Chinese and ...


Ronan Bennett, 11 February 1993

by Oriana Fallaci, translated by James Marcus.
Chatto, 599 pp., £15.99, November 1992, 0 7011 3835 1
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... here, unintentionally is further proof of how difficult modern novelists – with exceptions, like Timothy Mo and Amos Oz – find it to write about sectarian ...


Julian Barnes: Burning Letters, 7 July 1988

... English Literary Manuscripts, recently published by the British Library.* I share the phrase with Timothy Mo, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro and Craig ‘Hurricane’ Raine; also with William Boyd, who, unlike the rest of us, adds of his manucripts that he ‘would be “very reluctant” to allow any access to them’. (This sounds pretty suspicious ...

His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell, 2 December 2010

J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... in that his coloniser-centred writing had been made obsolete by such figures as Salman Rushdie and Timothy Mo, though both were Farrell fans – especially Mo, who in 1990 scuba-dived at the spot where Farrell drowned. Still, he was chiefly commemorated as a writer’s writer – in Derek Mahon’s poems ‘A Disused ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... visit to the USSR, as it then was, in 1988, a party which included Craig Raine, Paul Bailey and Timothy Mo. I don’t remember laughing more on any trip before or since; we were a very silly group, so much so that we often mystified our hosts and sometimes behaved disgracefully. Sue – and I even noticed this in the photo the Guardian used for her ...

The Village Life

James Meek: Pushkin in English, 6 June 2019

Novels, Tales, Journeys 
by Aleksandr Pushkin, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Penguin, 512 pp., £9.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 29037 8
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... and are so unusual, that our inner chronicler doesn’t have time to narrate them. The slo-mo car crash is a Hollywood artefact. In the real world we are hurled from events to consequences without time to spectate. Still, there are odd jumps and signs of an unnecessary haste to hustle the work to its end. Mironova has no personality; she’s simply a ...

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