by Xu Xi
CHINESE WALLS (Novel 1994)
Itís the sixties. U.S. sailors on R&R prowl the streets of the waterfront in Hong Kong where the Indonesian-Chinese Hsu family lives. "Whatís a prostitute?" nine-year old Ai-Lin asks her older brother Philip who is horrified she knows the word. Eldest brother Paul tries to explain about the girls with the "orange hair" Ai-Lin has seen next door at Chung King Mansion. Written in the first person, the book, according to one reviewer, "leaves no cheap or smutty aftertaste," and is "like listening to a close friend talking about her life, her family, her love and her frustrations." This controversial first novel launched the authorís career in Asia.
DAUGHTERS OF HUI (Novella/Stories 1996)
This collection of a novella and three stories was named one of the top ten "best books of Asia" of 1996 and won wide critical acclaim. Reviewers say the author "addresses the prudery of Confucian values" and remark "the streak of mischief in the tapestry of her story line." Others note that "though the subject matter can be raunchy, the sleaze element is conspicuously absent," and also that her work is "arrestingly poignant."