For Neville "Bunt" Mullard and his mother, Betty, Hong Kong is part of Britain - one of the pleasanter parts; it is also cozy, monotonous, profitable, and homely. Now ninety-nine years of colonial rule are about to end, and the British government is about to hand over Hong Kong to China. Betty and Bunt can see China from their parlor, but they have never been there. They detest Chinese food. "The Chinese take-away, " as they call the Hand-over, does not particularly concern them. When Bunt first meets Mr. Hung, a well-spoken gentleman from the Chinese mainland, he pays him little heed. And when Mr. Hung offers the Mullards a handsome sum for their family business - a fifty-year-old textile factory, Imperial Stitching, that was cofounded by Bunt's late father - Bunt refuses him out of hand. Yet it soon grows clear that Mr. Hung is different from the Chinese the Mullards have lived alongside for years. For Mr. Hung will accept no refusals. Then a young woman from the Mullards' factory vanishes, one of many disappearances. But this one is different. Ah Fu has last been seen in the company of Mr. Hung. And so Bunt is forced for the first time in his forty-three years to make decisions that matter. He even begins, maybe, to discover love. Yet against all of Bunt's good, if half-formed, intentions are pitted the will of Mr. Hung and the looming threat of the ultimate betrayal.
Paul Theroux was born and educated in the United States. After graduating from university in 1963, he travelled first to Italy and then to Africa, where he worked as a Peace Corps teacher at a bush school in Malawi, and as a lecturer at Makerere University in Uganda. In 1968 he joined the University of Singapore and taught in the Department of English for three years. Throughout this time he was publishing short stories and journalism, and wrote a number of novels. Among these were Fong and the Indians, Girls at Play and Jungle Lovers, all of which appear in one volume, On the Edge of the Great Rift (Penguin, 1996).
In the early 1970s Paul Theroux moved with his wife and two children to Dorset, where he wrote Saint Jack, and then on to London. He was a resident in Britain for a total of seventeen years. In this time he wrote a dozen volumes of highly praised fiction and a number of successful travel books, from which a selection of writings were taken to compile his book Travelling the World (Penguin, 1992). Paul Theroux has now returned to the United States, but he continues to travel widely.
Paul Theroux's many books include Picture Palace, which won the 1978 Whitbread Literary Award; The Mosquito Coast, which was the 1981 Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year and joint winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was also made into a feature film; Riding the Iron Rooster, which won the 1988 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award; The Pillars of Hercules, shortlisted for the 1996 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award; My Other Life: A Novel, Kowloon Tong, Sir Vidia's Shadow, Fresh-air Fiend and Hotel Honolulu. Blindness is his latest novel. Most of his books are published by Penguin.