Scratching the Head of Chairman Mao (Paperback)

By Jonathan Tel

Turtle Point Press, 9781885983725, 220pp.

Publication Date: January 28, 2020

List Price: 17.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


"A tour de force of deep knowledge, uncanny powers of observation, and brilliant tragicomic invention." --James Lasdun
"A remarkable and very moving feat of storytelling." --Andrew Holgate
A Foreword Reviews Editor's pick

Money makes Beijing go round in Jonathan Tel's seductive, puzzle-like novel-in-stories.

China is the center of the world, and the center of China is Beijing, and at the center of Beijing is a billionaire financier named Qin. At the opening of this novel-in-stories, billionaire Qin is lying in state at his funeral, victim of a sudden and premature death. Moving back and forth in time, we meet a wide range of Chinese, all linked to Qin by a degree or two of separation: a property developer, a street artist, a prostitute, a fashion model, a spy, a thief, an expat lawyer, a muckraking journalist. By the end of this biting, post-post-modern cultural observation, the manner of Qin's death is revealed. Scratching the Head of Chairman Mao presents today's China in its full and fabulous complexity.

About the Author

Jonathan Tel is the author of three previous works of fiction. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Granta . Stories in this book have won the Sunday Times EFG Story Prize, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and the V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize. He teaches history at Stanford University in Berlin, travels widely, and is in Beijing as often as possible.