Mason, Richard: The World of Suzie Wong
I first read The World of Suzie Wong as a teenager, and again earlier this year . Still more recently, finding the movie on youtube, I enjoyed the story yet again. Suzie Wong is the proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold (more credible than Dostoevsky’s Sonya from Crime & Punishment), but the most significant passage in the book comes from the narrator (an Englishman) discoursing on the plight of Eurasians after hearing a group of Englishwomen at dinner magnanimously declare that they were careful not to be too courteous to Eurasians in case the Eurasians imagined themselves equal to the English. “This lack of charity for fellow human beings—for a minority of unhappy, race-less people fathered by ourselves—seemed to me an incomparably worse sin than any to be found at the Nam Kok [the brothel].” The book was published in 1957, but the more things change the more they remain the same: (1) Nationalities degrade other nationalities to feel better about themselves; and (2) People demote prostitutes to lower forms of life for the same reason. Poor Suzie was Chinese and a prostitute (a yum-yum girl)—but also so much more.