By Kerry Young
Bloomsbury Press, $15.00, 278 pages
Pao is a Chinese immigrant in Jamaica and the mob boss of Chinatown. His father was killed by imperial forces in China in the late 1930s, Pao and his family immigrated to Jamaica to live with Zhang, his father’s best friend. Brought up in the world of illegal dealings, Pao uses Sun Tzu’s Art of War as a guide to life and politics in tumultuous Jamaica. He examines his life and Jamaican independence. He is the “Uncle” everyone comes to for help. Pao falls in love with Gloria, a prostitute who comes to him for protection. When Zhang does not approve of Gloria, Pao marries Fay, the daughter of a rich supermarket owner in Chinatown. Pao is conflicted, torn between the woman he loves and the woman he tries to love. As the political power grab in Jamaica worsens between the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Labor Party, Pao finds himself caught between the old Jamaica and a new dangerous Jamaica. Jamaica takes on the role of a fully developed character, from the beauty of the landscape to the social and political transformation taking place in the decades after becoming independent.