New York: Signet, 1958. First Paperback Edition. Small Octavo. (18 cm.) 288 pps. Pictorial paper wrappers. Minor creasing and edgewear. Near Fine. Item #92
The story of a prostitute falling in love with an artist has been used, ceaselessly, since the invention of the narrative form. "The World of Suzie Wong" did not try to break from this formula. It did, however, introduce to a mass audience just entering the Beatnik era, an Asian female as the hero. The novel was written by Richard Mason (white, male and British), who served in the Pacific during World War II and spent his post war years in glitzy, British ruled, Hong Kong. Over the past 50 plus years, the author has been eclipsed by the character, "Suzie Wong", who has come to represent the many stages of modern China and specifically Hong Kong. "Suzie", like her counterparts in Black literature of this era, begins at the lowest levels of her society but ultimately finds strength and pride in her identity as a Chinese woman. The book has been made into a play, movie, ballet and speculative sequels have been attempted by contemporary authors. But who can claim "Suzie"? Like Hong Kong, she is her own woman. Scarce in such good condition.