Pao by Kerry Young
A Novel

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Synopsis

As a young boy, Pao comes to Jamaica in the wake of the Chinese civil war and rises to become the Godfather of Kingston's bustling Chinatown. Pao needs to take care of some dirty business, but he is no Don Corleone. The rackets he runs are small time and the protection he provides necessary, given the minority status of the Chinese in Jamaica. Pao, in fact, is a sensitive guy in a wise guy role that doesn't quite fit. Often mystified by all that he must take care of, Pao invariably turns to Sun Tsu's Art of War. The juxtaposition of the weighty, aphoristic words of the ancient Chinese sage, and the tricky criminal and romantic predicaments Pao must negotiate goes far toward explaining the novel's great charm.


A tale of post-colonial Jamaica from a unique and politically potent perspective, Pao moves from the last days of British rule through periods of unrest at social and economic inequality, though tides of change that will bring Rastafarianism and the Back to Africa Movement. Jamaica is transforming: And what is the place of a Chinese man in this new order? Pao is an utterly beguiling, unforgettable novel of race, class and creed, love and ambition, and a country in the throes of tumultuous change.
 

About Kerry Young

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Kerry Young was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Chinese father and a mother of mixed Chinese-African heritage, and moved to England at the age of ten. Her first novel, Pao, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Book Prize. She lives in Leicestershire, England. Learn more at www.kerryyoung.co.uk.
 
Published July 12, 2011 by Bloomsbury USA. 289 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Pao

Kirkus Reviews

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Pao is just a kid when he arrives in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1938.

Jul 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

The Guardian

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As far as "Uncle" Zhang is concerned, Pao's main transgression is to take up with the black "whore", Gloria, whose brothel he protects.

Sep 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

The Guardian

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Jamaica, where Kerry Young was born in 1955, is an island of bewildering mixed bloods and ethnicities.

Jul 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

BC Books

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Pao is a first novel, and it is primarily an enjoyable, light read, especially for fans of historical fiction who are looking for something new.

Aug 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

BC Books

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Pao depicts life in a time and place that’s unusual for historical fiction: Jamaica, from pre-independence to the present day.

Aug 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

The Bookbag

Summary: Infused with the political background of Jamaican independence, spanning nearly 60 years, this book uses the time-honoured appeal of being narrated by a bad man with a conscience.

Dec 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

City Book Review

As Pao grows older and wiser, he slowly assumes Zhang’s responsibility of looking after Kingston’s Chinatown, a task that involves often legally dubious acts that nonetheless seem always to land Pao on the right side of the moral line.

Nov 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

Portland Book Review

As the political power grab in Jamaica worsens between the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Labor Party, Pao finds himself caught between the old Jamaica and a new dangerous Jamaica.

Apr 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

The New Zealand Herald

It's so short that to scrape in an extra $17 million or so of petty cash it's willing to break an election pledge and… Wind turbines tend to be placed high up on towers to catch the air, but what say they could be only a metre or two off the… The Defence Department is establishing a serie...

Oct 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

BookRack

When you tell these stories through graphic fiction, it becomes even more interesting and that’s what PAO – The Anthology of Comics 1, published by Penguin India is all about.

Aug 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

New Zealand Listener

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Nov 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

News Review.

Vang Pao is pictured here in his Clovis home in 2009.

Feb 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Pao: A Novel

Reader Rating for Pao
82%

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