The House of Doors, by Tan Twang Eng (Canongate 2023)

Neil's picture

In this brilliant, restrained novel, Eng weaves true events and real historical figures with fictional characters in Penang in 1921, with stories from 1910, to produce a tightly plotted and atmospheric novel. Somerset Maugham appears, and is told the true story which became his play and short story The Letter. Sun Yet Sen, the Chinese revolutionary also appears, alongside fictional characters. There's a huge cast of memorable characters, and the author lays out a tapestry of plotting, elegantly told, superbly paced. This is a stunning, compelling novel.