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Getting to Lamma is like following an escapee from a Woody Allen movie as she looks for love and meaning amidst the moral ambiguities of post-Tiananmen China.

An Interview with the Author

The heroine, Madeleine Fox, starts out as a wimp, flying to Asia and, puh-leaze, thinking she won't know what to do if her old boyfriend isn't at the airport….Darn good thing for her he leaves her in the lurch, so she has to become a sassy woman. Does she have anything in common with the male adventurers she wants to emulate?

A. Nice word, sassy. If other people are having more fun than you are, given 'em hell until you get your way.

Anyway, there's a non-gender specific quote I love from Simon Leys, which is the pen name of the Chinese literature scholar Pierre Ryckmans, who wrote way way back in the 1980s: "From a Western point of view, China is simply the other pole of the human mind… It is only when we contemplate China that we can become exactly aware of our own identity and that we begin to perceive which part of our heritage truly pertains to universal humanity and which part merely reflects Indo-European idiosyncrasies."

On the other hand, a certain ilk of Western men even today go to Asia because they harbor this belief dating back to the days of the White Man's Burden, that the women of the mysterious Orient are pliant creatures who exist to please men… in fact, that the whole "Orient" will spread itself open to their will.

Why do women go? Tell me what you think on TalkBack. Madeleine goes because… Q&A continues


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