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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2010, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    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.

Almost.

“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!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Ghachar Ghochar
    by Vivek Shanbhag
    The Bengaluru (aka Bangalore) that has dominated economic news headlines over the past decade is the...
  • Book Jacket: Caught in the Revolution
    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport
    So taken were BookBrowse's First Impression reviewers by the inside look at the start of the Russian...
  • Book Jacket: Hillbilly Elegy
    Hillbilly Elegy
    by J.D. Vance
    In this illuminating memoir, Vance recounts his trajectory from growing up a "hillbilly" in ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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.

 
Modal popup -