The Foreigner

  • by Francie Lin
  • Narrated by James Chen
  • 9 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Emerson Chang is a mild mannered bachelor on the cusp of 40, a financial analyst in a neatly pressed suit, a child of Taiwanese immigrants who doesn't speak a word of Chinese, and, well, a virgin. His only real family is his mother, whose subtle manipulations have kept him close, all in the name of preserving an obscure idea of family and culture.But when his mother suddenly dies, Emerson sets out for Taipei to scatter her ashes, and to convey a surprising inheritance to his younger brother, Little P. Now enmeshed in the Taiwanese criminal underworld, Little P seems to be running some very shady business out of his uncle's karaoke bar, and he conceals a secret--a crime that has not only severed him from his family, but may have annihilated his conscience. Hoping to appease both the living and the dead, Emerson isn't about to give up the inheritance until he uncovers Little P's past, and saves what is left of his family.The Foreigner is a darkly comic tale of crime and contrition, and a riveting story about what it means to be a foreigner--even in one's own family.

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What the Critics Say



Edgar Award, Best First Novel by an American Writer, 2009

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I Beg to Differ

I bought this book in spite of the bad reviews and hey, was I glad I did. I can see why it won the Hugo. It is a wonderfully drawn portrait of a Chinese American who comes "home" to Taiwan and finds himself a stranger in a strange land. The characters were all kooky, colourful and fully drawn, made even more delightful by the wonderful narrator, James Chen. A bravura performance which I am glad I did not miss. Did I mention that it is suspenceful and an interesting take on Taiwan? Highly recommended.
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- deeva

worth listenting

I'm giving this 4 stars. In terms of narrative it's a bit flawed (who's perfect?) but for me there is a lot of interest in the main character and his experience of return to Taiwan as a "foreigner". Some nice observations on Taiwan, and also on Asian-American identity. One thing that annoyed me a little was one of the characters' tirades against a white American who has "gone native" in Taiwan, since I got a bit of an impression that this reflects the author's own feelings. So, what, white Americans are not meant to go to Asia? Or if they do they should remain superficial tourists? Why is it possible for an Asian migrant to the US to have an authentic hyphenated identity but impossible for a white expatriate in Asia to establish the same thing? Sure, these are somewhat different propositions, but come on, Francie, cultural belonging is flexible and negotiable, isn't it? For me this issue is seen through a bit of a crude orientalist lens. That gripe apart, I found lots to like here.
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- Ashley

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-30-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios