Strangers on a Pier

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What to expect

‘So wise and so well done. It made me wish it were much longer than it is’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

From the award-winning author of Five Star Billionaire and We, The Survivors comes a whirlwind personal history of modern Asia, as told through his Malaysian and Chinese heritage.

If we are lucky we will find writing that grips us with its vitality, beauty and significance  – Strangers on a Pier is like that’ Deborah Levy

In Strangers on a Pier, acclaimed author Tash Aw explores the panoramic cultural vitality of modern Asia through his own complicated family story of migration and adaptation, which is reflected in his own face. From a taxi ride in present-day Bangkok, to eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1980s Kuala Lumpur, to his grandfathers’ treacherous boat journeys to Malaysia from mainland China in the 1920s, Aw weaves together stories of insiders and outsiders, images from rural villages to megacity night clubs, and voices in a dizzying variety of languages, dialects, and slangs, to create an intricate and astoundingly vivid portrait of a place caught between the fast-approaching future and a past that won’t let go.

Critics Review

  • Strangers on a Pier offer a unique and thought-provoking perspective of a life lived out in interesting times, places, and circumstances’ Carl Logan, Midwest Book Review

    ‘Aw always writes well, but this small volume is particularly lyrical. The extended essay format suits him: long enough for some structure – the chronology is not linear, and he bounces from story to social commentary to introspection – and to explore issues in depth, while short enough for immediacy. He covers a tremendous amount of ground … Strangers on a Pier is a wealth of pithy observation’ Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books

    Aw digs deep into the meaning of this move, the meaning of Chineseness in Malaysia, the meaning of inherited immigrant markings, and the meaning of leaving the immigrant perspective behind. He charts what it looks like to reprise history, to move for greater opportunity and more education, leaving behind those with less money and shedding the ancestral memory and choreography of poverty’ Sharrona Pearl, Public Books

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