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Getting to Lamma by Jan Alexander

Getting to Lamma

by Jan Alexander

244 pages
A satirical novel of love and politics in post-Tiananmen China.

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Category: Fiction:Drama
About the Book

One bicycle accident changes everything when Madeleine Fox, New Yorker seeking to discover what's on the other side of the world, literally runs into brash Shanghai dissident David Li. Reading the tale of Madeleine's adventures is like following an escapee from a Woody Allen movie as she looks for love and meaning amidst the moral ambiguities of post-Tiananmen China and Hong Kong.

Compelled to make sense of a father who still dreams of being Kerouac and a Southern belle mother who never stopped believing in Mao, fleeing from a cocaine abusing ex-husband, Madeleine has picked herself up from her shrink's couch and decided to follow the married foreign correspondent who has cajoled her for years to "come run away with me." She finds out from day one that acting on a fantasy is like stepping through the looking glass into an alien haze. Alone in a threadbare hotel room she plots revenge against men who cheat, and gradually learns to be a plucky woman. On the way to Lamma, Madeleine participates in a defection, uncovers a business conspiracy, and ponders how to save the world from both communism and capitalism run amuck.

What is Lamma? It is a South China Sea island full on plantain trees and ex-patriates who have just returned from remote corners of the world. It's a place to invest in affordable real estate. Farmers plant rice there and lawyers handling joint venture contracts stream to the 7 a.m. ferry, freelance photographers stagger from the party last night, on their way to catch another flight out. Not many get to Lamma and stay there; it's a life of glorious impermanence.

Getting to Lamma is a cock-eyed love letter to the Asian "gold rush" of the 1990s from a heroine who grows to crave the clamor of construction, the whiff of danger, and the uncertainties about tomorrow.


...this is not only the story of one person. It's the story of Hong Kong and Shanghai in the 1990s, a world that is rapidly changing. Ms. Alexander captures essence of these places. I felt I was right there, hearing the sounds, inhaling the smells, experiencing the tension of political and economic clashes. I don't know if I'll ever get a chance to travel there. But I thank the author for giving me a chance to experience the voyage of the central character through her eyes. I loved this book and was left yearning for more because it ends before the actual handover of Hong Kong to China begins. But I'll long remember the descriptions of time and place and what it meant to be a woman during that turbulent decade.

- Linda Linguvic
A top reviewer on Amazon



About the Author
Jan Alexander Jan Alexander's articles, essays and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Money, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Chicago Tribune. She is co-author of Bad Girls of the Silver Screen and a former contributor to Fodor's Guides to Hong Kong and China. Getting to Lamma, her first novel, was originally published by Asia 2000 in Hong Kong.



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