Yellow Emperor's Cure by Kanal Basu
A Novel

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In a breakout novel that transports the reader to a brilliantly imagined, sensuously portrayed, dangerous point in history, Kunal Basu has written the tale of a man's journey that spans continents- -and the limits of his faith in science. Lisbon, 1898: Antonio Maria, surgeon and notorious playboy, returns home after a long absence to learn his beloved father has syphilis, the scourge of both rich and poor. Determined to find a cure, Antonio sets sail for Peking, to study under the evasive but renowned Dr. Xu. But Dr. Xu does not intend to give away his knowledge, and Antonio suddenly falls in love with his assistant, the elusive Fumi. The threat of the advancing Boxer rebellion hangs over the Summer Palace, and Antonio and Fumi must decide whether to flee together or remain in China.

Kunal Basu's lush, haunting tale invites comparisons to Michael Ondaatje's best work. This superb novel conjures a man discovering the love that will force him to question everything.

About Kanal Basu

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KUNAL BASU was born in Calcutta and has traveled widely. He teaches at Oxford University and is married with one daughter. He is also the author of three other novels, The Opium Clerk, The Miniaturist, and Racists, and a book of short stories, The Japanese Wife. Visit
Published October 27, 2011 by Overlook. 317 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Yellow Emperor's Cure

Kirkus Reviews

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In 1898, Doctor Antonio Maria is one of Portugal’s best doctors, but when his widowed father becomes desperately ill with syphilis Doctor Maria will do anything, go anywhere to find a cure to save his father’s life.

Sep 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Yellow Emperor's Cure: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Intent on finding a cure for syphilis after learning that a relative has contracted the disease, Portuguese national Dr. Antonio Maria travels with a Western legation to China to learn the Yellow Emperor’s Canon.

Aug 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Yellow Emperor's Cure: A Novel


The Yellow Emperor’s Cure is the story of a Portuguese doctor — brilliant surgeon, lady killer, adventurer — who travels to China to find a cure for syphilis.

Jan 08 2012 | Read Full Review of Yellow Emperor's Cure: A Novel

Curious Book Fans

Gradually the focus of the book shifts to the relationship between Antonio and the mysterious Fumi, a female exponent of Nei Ching who happens to also speak English since she lived with a man who printed Bibles for the Chinese and to the sensuous backdrop of life in the Orient.

Jan 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Yellow Emperor's Cure: A Novel

India Today

He is looking for a cure for the Portuguese pox, as the Chinese call it, the Canton Rash as others do, or syphilis as more mundane souls know of it, which may well lie in the arcane signs and symbols contained in a Chinese manual of medicine.

Jan 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Yellow Emperor's Cure: A Novel

Mumbai Boss

One can only imagine an epilogue or sequel to The Yellow Emperor’s Cure in which Antonio grinds his teeth when the first cure for syphilis is discovered in nearby Germany.

Jan 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Yellow Emperor's Cure: A Novel

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