Peter Ho Davies most recent novel, The Fortune, tells the story of four lives—a railroad baron’s valet who unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor, Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star, a hate-crime victim whose death mobilizes Asian Americans, and a biracial writer visiting China for an adoption. Through these characters,Davies explores the threads of what it means to be both Chinese and American. The son of a Welsh father and Chinese mother, Davies was raised in England and spent his summers in Wales, which certainly influenced his debut novel, The Welsh Girl, in 2007. Davies now makes his home in Ann Arbor, MI, where he is on the faculty of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a winner of the PEN/Malamud Award. In addition to the The Welsh Girl, Davies has written two award-winning story collections.
“Intense and dreamlike . . . filled with quiet resonances across time . . . The Fortunes is powerful as a chronicle of perpetual frustration, as each new generation grows aware of the arbitrary line between margin and mainstream . . . What makes The Fortunes so hopeful, the type of novel that could have only been written now, is its willingness to take liberties with that past—to rearrange its details and indulge in speculation, in order to help us imagine a different way forward.” —The New Yorker
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2016, NPR BEST BOOKS OF 2016, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOKS OF 2016, NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR’S CHOICE SELECTION
Sly, funny, intelligent, and artfully structured, The Fortunes recasts American history through the lives of four Chinese Americans and reimagines the multigenerational novel through the fractures of immigrant family experience.
Ah Ling, the son of a prostitute and a ghost a white man– is sent from his homeland to make his way alone in California. From humble laundry worker, he will rise to valet for a powerful railroad baron and unwittingly ignite an explosion in Chinese labor.
Anna May Wong, the first Chinese film star in Hollywood, is forbidden to kiss a white man on screen. Shut out of leading roles, cast only as Dragon Lady or Butterfly, she must find her place between two worlds and two cultures.
Vincent Chin, aspiring all-American, is killed by a pair of Detroit auto workers simply for looking Japanese. He will become the symbol for a community roused to action in the face of hatred.
John Ling Smith, though half-Chinese, doesn t speak the language. When he visits China for the first time to adopt a baby girl, he sees the long history of both cultures coming together in the spark of a new century.
Building fact into fiction, spinning fiction around fact, The Fortunes is sly, funny, intelligent, and artfully structured. It proves, once again, that, in the words of Elizabeth McCracken: “He can do anything, and he does. In this wonder of a novel, Peter Ho Davies offers not just marvelous storytelling, not just prose that sings and humor that bites, but also a rallying, hopeful vision of what it might mean to be American.”
Praise for The Fortunes:
“Davies, a master storyteller, blends fact with fiction in this saga of immigration, acclimation, and Chinese culture, which he tells through the experiences of Chinese-Americans at different points in history.” –Entertainment Weekly, “12 must-read novels out this fall”
“Davies writes with a rare emotional resonance and a deft sense of structure; it’s hard not to be in awe of the way he’s composed this complex, beautiful novel. The Fortunes is a stunning look at what it means to be Chinese, what it means to be American, and what it means to be a person navigating the strands of identity, the things that made us who we are, whoever that is.”—NPR
“The book’s scope is impressive, but what’s even more staggering is the utter intimacy and honesty of each character’s introspection. More extraordinary still is the depth and the texture created by the juxtaposition of different eras, making for a story not just of any one person but of hundreds of years and tens of millions of people. Davies (The Welsh Girl) has created a brilliant, absorbing masterpiece.” –Publishers Weekly starred review
“The Fortunes masterfully captures a century of history and the survival of an immigrant community caught between two cultures.”—Buzzfeed, “21 Incredible New Books You Need To Read This Fall”