Tom Lin’s The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu reimagines the classic Western through the eyes of a Chinese American assassin on a quest to rescue his kidnapped wife. Author Jonathan Lethem says that the novel has “the atmosphere of Cormac McCarthy’s West or that of the Coen brothers’ True Grit.” This timely debut diversifies the stories told about the American West and arrives as the United States sees a horrific rise in the number of hate crimes directed at members of this country’s Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities.
Lin discussed the launch of the novel with Wayne Ho, president and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council, the country’s largest Asian American social services agency.
The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu
By Tom Lin
Published by Little, Brown and Company
An astounding debut that reimagines the classic Western through the eyes of a Chinese American assassin on a quest to rescue his kidnapped wife and exact his revenge on her abductors, and “declares the arrival of an astonishing new voice” (Jonathan Lethem).
Orphaned young, Ming Tsu, the son of Chinese immigrants, is raised by the notorious leader of a California crime syndicate, who trains him to be his deadly enforcer. But when Ming falls in love with Ada, the daughter of a powerful railroad magnate, and the two elope, he seizes the opportunity to escape to a different life. Soon after, in a violent raid, the tycoon’s henchmen kidnap Ada and conscript Ming into service for the Central Pacific Railroad.
Battered, heartbroken, and yet defiant, Ming partners with a blind clairvoyant known only as the prophet. Together the two set out to rescue his wife and to exact revenge on the men who destroyed Ming, aided by a troupe of magic-show performers, some with supernatural powers, whom they meet on the journey. Ming blazes his way across the West, settling old scores with a single-minded devotion that culminates in an explosive and unexpected finale.
Written with the violent ardor of Cormac McCarthy and the otherworldly inventiveness of Ted Chiang, The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is at once a thriller, a romance, and a story of one man’s quest for redemption in the face of a distinctly American brutality.