Simon has written a rollicking great novel that kept me turning the pages so fast they almost burst into flames. Sublime storytelling.” —TERRY FALLIS, author of No Relation and Poles Apart

“this epic novel will not leave you alone—it will call to you (even in the night) to return to its colourful, daring and sometimes outrageous characters and to keep up with them until they are ready to let you go. ”JOSEPH KERTES, author of Winter Tulips and Gratitude

“In this richly imagined tale, Simon Choa-Johnston fleshes out the bones of his exotic ancestry and gives it the theatrical sweep of opera – engrossing.”PLUM JOHNSON, Charles Taylor Prize-winning author of They Left Us Everything

GLOBE & MAIL BESTSELLER 

Listen: McMaster University Podcast

Penguin Canada


In 1862, a young Jew from Calcutta named Emanuel Belilios leaves his dutiful wife Semah and sets sail for Hong Kong to make his fortune in the opium trade.  There he grows into a prosperous and respectable merchant, eventually falling in love with his Chinese business partner’s daughter Pearl, a delicate beauty twenty years his junior. As a wedding present, he builds for her the most magnificent mansion in Hong Kong. Then Semah arrives unannounced from Calcutta.           more ...

photo by Emily Cooper

Penguin India

“… A superb saga of transmigrational experiences and sensibilities. Jim Wong Chiu, Asian Canadian Writers Workshop.

Few narratives highlight the unlikely alliances between the Baghdadi Jews and Chinese during this zenith of British colonialism, fewer still with the humanity, tenderness and unflinching gaze.P Be prepared to care deeply for these characters…” Anna Ling Kaye, Editor (rtd) Rice Paper Magazine