Chinese Whiskers by Pallavi Aiyar
A Novel

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Chinese Whiskers by Pallavi Aiyar is a charming fable set against the landscape of contemporary Beijing, seen through the eyes of two cats. Soyabean is a middle class cat looked after by a grandmother who embodies traditional Chinese morality. Tofu is born to a stray cat mother in a backyard dustbin. They are brought together when they are adopted by foreigners, who live in a traditional style courtyard house in Beijing’s traditional hutong neighborhoods. Then Soyabean is offered a job as a model for a new brand of cat food while at the same time a mysterious virus is sickening people across the city. Cats are blamed for it and are being rounded up, and Soyabean and Tofu's idyllic lives as pampered pets come to an abrupt end. 

Interweaving real episodes in recent Chinese history such as the Olympic Games, the SARS virus, and tainted pet-food scandals with a richly imagined world, this heartwarming story of cats and humans does what W. Bruce Cameron's A Dog's Purpose did for canines.  It will make you laugh and tear up, while showing the battles fought between the corruption of modern living and the ideals of traditional life.


About Pallavi Aiyar

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Award winning journalist and author PALLAVI AIYAR spent six years living in a hutong home in the heart of the old imperial city of Beijing. She reported from across China for the Hindu and Indian Express in addition to teaching English at the Beijing Broadcasting Institute. She is the winner of the 2007 Prem Bhatia Memorial Award for excellence in political reporting and analysis for her dispatches from China. Her book Smoke and Mirrors: An Experience of China won the Vodafone-Crossword Popular Book Award for 2008. Her first novel, Chinese Whiskers, has recently been published by Harper Collins India to excellent reviews. She currently lives in Brussels with her husband, son and two Chinese cats, where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Pallavi has degrees in Philosophy, History and Media Sociology from St StephensCollege Delhi University, Oxford and the London School of Economics.
Published December 11, 2012 by St. Martin's Press. 229 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Chinese Whiskers

Kirkus Reviews

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Narrated in alternating chapters by Soyabean, a handsome, lazy ginger tom, and Tofu, a small dark cat who prefers the world from her perch in the courtyard’s pomegranate tree, the novel cat-walks between credibility and fantasy, just as these animal stories do.

Oct 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Chinese Whiskers: A Novel

Portland Book Review

Living in China during a time when a virus affecting humans is being blamed on cats, and scandals surround pet food, is not ideal for felines.

Feb 16 2013 | Read Full Review of Chinese Whiskers: A Novel

IBN Live

A migrant construction worker tells the lost cat Tofu, "Our great leader Deng Xiaoping said it didn't matter if it was a black cat or white cat as long as it caught mice.

Jan 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Chinese Whiskers: A Novel

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