Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Snakes Can't Run"

Ed Lin is the author of the novels Waylaid and This Is a Bust, both winners of Asian American Literary Awards. He lives in New York.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, Snakes Can't Run, and reported the following:
Shucks, page 69 of Snakes Can't Run is representative of a major theme in my new book -- coming clean about your past.

It's set in the hot summer of 1976 in New York's Chinatown. Robert Chow, a 25-year-old Asian American and Vietnam vet, is taking on his first detective-track assignment after a few years of walking a bullshit beat.

This particular page shows a confrontation between Robert and Andy Ng, a guy about the same age who has taken the reins of the family business -- a multinational conglomerate of illicit operations.

Like a lot of modern Chinese criminal enterprises, Ng's company has its roots in ethnic Chinese resisters to the Qing Dynasty, which was when Manchus ruled the country. Thing is, when the Qing collapsed, the Chinese decided it was more profitable to remain underground.

This sets up an early Michael Corleone-esque declaration from Andy.
We walked west toward Chinatown.

"You don't have anything on me. You know why?"

"You're good at getting other people to do your dirty work."

"No. That's something my father's good at."

I turned to him. He was looking straight ahead.

"This is not going to be a surprise to you, Robert, but Beautiful Hong Kong isn't a completely legitimate business."

"You don't say."

"But under me, it will be. I'm transitioning the company from a legacy of triad businesses to a socially responsible and modern corporation. I've already created a space for our youth. They can learn to be proud of our culture, of who they are. An awful lot of our kids are at risk for delinquency now in Chinatown, but I don't have to tell you that."


"I know you were born here, Robert. Are you proud to be an American?"

"Well, pride is a sin, so I'll just say that I'm very pleased."

"But you know what, brother, you're not really an American. You know what Malcolm X said? 'Sitting at the table doesn't make you a
Bonus points if you can finish the quote without Googling it.
View the Snakes Can't Run trailer, and learn more about the book and author at Ed Lin's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue