Excerpt from Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Rock Paper Tiger

by Lisa Brackmann

Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann X
Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2010, 368 pages
    Jun 2011, 336 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

The front door is locked. Maybe Lao Zhang isn’t home. Maybe he’s already over at the Warehouse for the show. I use my key and go inside. I’ll have a few jiaozi, I figure, leave the rest here, and try the Warehouse.

The house is basically a rectangle. You go in the entrance, turn, and there’s the main room, with whitewashed walls and added skylights, remodeled to give Lao Zhang better light for painting.

The lights are off in the studio, but the computer’s on, booted up to the login screen of this online game Lao Zhang likes to play, The Sword of Ill Repute. A snatch of music plays, repeats.

“Lao Zhang, ni zai ma?” I call out. Are you there? No answer.

To the right is the bedroom, which is mostly taken up by a kang, the traditional brick bed you can heat from underneath. Lao Zhang has a futon on top of his. On the left side of the house there’s a tiny kitchen, a toilet, and a little utility room with a spare futon where Lao Zhang’s friends frequently crash.

Which is where the Uighur is.

“Shit!” I almost drop the takeout on the kitchen floor.

Here’s this guy stumbling out of the spare room, blinking uncertainly, rubbing his eyes, which suddenly go wide with fear. “Ni hao,” I say uncertainly.

He stands there, one leg twitching, like he could bolt at any moment. He’s in his forties, not Chinese, not Han Chinese anyway; his hair is brown, his eyes a light hazel, his face dark and broad with high cheeks—I’m guessing Uighur.

Ni hao,” he finally says.

“I’m Yili,” I stutter, “a friend of Lao Zhang’s. Is he . . . ?”

His eyes dart around the room. “Oh, yes, I am also friend of Lao Zhang’s. Hashim.”

“Happy to meet you,” I reply automatically.

I put the food and beer down on the little table by the sink, slowly because I get the feeling this guy startles easily. I can’t decide whether I should make small talk or run.

Since I suck at both of these activities, it’s a real relief to hear the front door bang and Lao Zhang yell from the living room: “It’s me. I’m back.”

“We’re in the kitchen,” I call out.

Lao Zhang is frowning when he comes in. He’s a northerner, part Manchu, big for a Chinese guy, and right now his thick shoulders are tense like he’s expecting a fight. “I thought you were going to phone,” he says to me.

“I was—I tried—My phone ran out of minutes, so I just. . . .” I point at the table. “I brought dinner.”

“Thanks.” He gives me a quick one-armed hug, and then everything’s normal again.


“You met Hashim?”

I nod and turn to the Uighur. “Maybe you’d like some dinner? I brought plenty.”

“Anything without pork?” Lao Zhang asks, grabbing chipped bowls from the metal locker he salvaged from the old commune factory.

“I got mutton, beef, and vegetable.”

“Thank you,” Hashim says, bobbing his head. He’s got a lot of gray hair. He starts to reach into his pocket for money. I wave him off. “Please don’t be so polite.”

Lao Zhang dishes out food, and we all sit around the tiny kitchen table. Lao Zhang shovels jiaozi into his mouth in silence. The Uighur stares at his bowl. I try to make small talk. “So, Hashim. Do you live in Beijing?”

Excerpted from Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann. Copyright © 2010 by Lisa Brackmann. Excerpted by permission of Soho Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano

    A charming, bighearted novel starring Auntie Poldi, Sicily's newest amateur sleuth.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.