Larry Feign

Jul 1, 2021

The Flower Boat Girl

A Novel Based on a True Story

Top Floor Books 2021

It can be easy to forget amongst the glistening skyscrapers, bustling streets and neon lights, but the Pearl River Delta used to be a haven for banditry and piracy. As the authority of Imperial China waned, pirate fleets based out of Guangdong Province roamed the waves, raiding traders and taking captives.

One of these captives, and later pirates was Cheng Yat Sou—the “wife of Cheng Yat”—who rose from humble beginnings to eventually bring together the competing pirate fleets into a confederation.

She is also the star of Larry Feign’s first novel The Flower Boat Girl (Top Floor Books, 2021). Larry starts the story of the pirate queen from her abduction by Cheng Yat, and writes of how she gains a foothold among the pirate fleets. More information—and a sample chapter—can be found on the book’s website.

Larry and I talk about Cheng Yat Sou, early-nineteenth century China, and pirate fleets. We also talk about how Larry wrote the book, and what he learned from being one of Hong Kong’s most prominent cartoonists.

Larry Feign is an award-winning artist and writer based in Hong Kong. He is well known for his long-running daily political comic strip “Lily Wong”, which satirized life in Hong Kong before and after the handover to China until he retired the cartoon in 2007. Feign’s work has appeared in Time, The Economist, the New York Times, The Atlantic, and other publications around the world. He also directed animated cartoons for Walt Disney Television and Cartoon Network. He is a MacDowell Fellow and three-time recipient of Amnesty International Human Rights Press Awards.

You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of The Flower Boat Girl. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.

Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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Nicholas Gordon

Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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