Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw is the account of a billionaire who upon reflection wonders why he shot so low in his dream and waited so long to achieve it. His advice is to strike while the iron is hot, pay attention, and don’t expect a third chance. We are told by people without money it isn’t about the money; and by those people with money, it is about respect, piles of respect, a mountain of it.
This could be any major urban area in the world where immigrants go to make it. We happen to be in Shanghai. The pace is fast, keep up or become road kill. A replaced worker is barely missed after a week, forgotten in a month. The rise to the top is treacherous all over and the fall is all too familiar. Missed opportunities, timing, and knowing someone can make all the difference.
I’m not sure why this novel is on any long list, especially the Man Booker, but if it makes the short list, Yikes.