Friday, December 26, 2014

What is Casey Walker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Casey Walker, author of Last Days in Shanghai.

His entry begins:
The most recent book I read with total purposelessness—that is, not Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, which I re-read for the course I’m teaching; not Assembling California, by John McPhee, which I started as research for a new novel; and not Goodnight, Moon or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which I read daily to my wide-eyed daughter—is Jenny Offill’s fractured and beautifully broken novel Dept. of Speculation. Offill assembles the novel from riveting moments of attention, often no more than a paragraph or a few lines long. Her style reminds me a little bit of...[read on]
About Last Days in Shanghai, from the publisher:
Luke Slade, a young Congressional aide, begins this business trip to China like all other international travel he’s endured with “Lyin’ Leo”: buried under a slew of diplomatic runarounds, non-functioning cell phones, and humiliation from the Congressman at every turn. But on day two, a new challenge rears its ugly head: Leo goes on a drunken bender and disappears into the night. Unsure what dubious business his corrupt and buffoonish boss had planned, Luke must piece together the Congressman’s lies while maintaining appearances with their Chinese contacts.

Amidst the confusion, a little bleary from jet-lag and alcohol, Luke receives a briefcase full of money from the mayor of a rural Chinese province. Luke accepts the “gift” in his daze, but when he later realizes his mistake and tries to return the cash, he discovers even more anxiety-inducing news. The mayor is dead.

As Luke tries to unravel the complex minefield of corruption he’s tumbled into, he must also confront his own role in the events. Unwitting marionette? Fall guy? Or perhaps someone more capable of moral compromise than he would have liked to believe. Last Days in Shanghai is an unforgettable debut by a writer to watch. It’s both a hold-on-to-your-seat thriller and a pitch-perfect exploration of present day China—the country’s rapacious capitalism, the shocking boom of its cities and the wholesale eradication of its traditions.
Follow Casey Walker on Twitter.

Learn more about Last Days in Shanghai at the Counterpoint Press website.

The Page 69 Test: Last Days in Shanghai.

Writers Read: Casey Walker.

--Marshal Zeringue