Farewell, Pink Gin

Malaysia is a land rich in farmers, civil servants and electronics assembly workers, but poor in novelists. That's an odd deficit, given the country's high levels of literacy, prosperity and anxiety, as well as an abundance of history, politics, ethnic tension and other delicate topics that can be used as material. All of which makes Tash Aw's debut novel worthy of close inspection.

The first major work of fiction written in English by a Malaysian about his country in recent memory, Aw's The Harmony Silk Factory has won enthusiastic reviews since its publication in March in the U.S....