CHOP SUEY is a mystery vel about Hong Kong, China and the Chinese people, aimed primarily at a world-wide audience that reads or hears about China on a daily basis, but has little understanding of the country or its people. A body washes up on the Hong Kong-China border - on the Hong Kong side, but it's clear the death must have occurred inside China proper. In trying to learn how the victim died, then, investigators have to solve a parallel mystery: what was he doing in China in the first place? For the man, a veteran Hong Kong resident, had vowed never to cross that border again - and had kept that vow for 35 years. As the investigation proceeds, the reader is taken on a journey through Chinese art, cuisine, culture, tradition and recent history. The vel avoids the usual cliches about China, instead helping to explain the Chinese character, and how the People's Republic suddenly exploded out of its ideological straitjacket to become a world power - and the lengths to which the Chinese Communist Party, which engineered the drastic transformation, will go in order to remain in charge.
Barry Kalb has lived in Hong Kong for more than 35 years, writing about China as a journalist, and observing the Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese at close range. He spent 25 years as a reporter on three continents, for the Washington Evening Star, CBS News and TIME Magazine, and as an editor for the Voice of America. For 10 years, he taught journalism at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of Hong Kong University. He and his wife now divide their time between Hong Kong and Thailand.