Mr Ma and Son

Mr Ma and Son

Summary

Translated by William Dolby, with an introduction by Julia Lovell


'He was in London - why be bothered looking at it? Wasn't it bad enough just being there?'


Newly arrived from their native China, Mr Ma and his son Ma Wei run an antiques shop nestled by St Paul's Cathedral, where they try to make a living amid the smog and bustle of 1920s London. As they struggle with money, misunderstandings and the ways of the English - from the overbearing patronage of missionary Reverend Ely to their well-meaning landlady Mrs Weddeburn and her carefree daughter - can understanding, even love, blossom? Both a moving story of the Chinese immigrant experience and a bitingly funny satire on the English, Mr Ma and Son delicately portrays the dreams and disappointments of those seeking a new life in a distant land.

About the author

Lao She

Lao She was born in 1899 to a poor Manchu family in Beijing. He left China in his mid-twenties to teach Chinese at the University of London, where he stayed for the next five years. Mr Ma and Son was his third and final novel written during his London years, and was serialized in 1929.

Lao She continued to teach and write upon his return to China, and became an established and respected author renowned for his humorist style. He ventured into the realm of satire and science fiction with Cat Country in 1932, also published by Penguin. He committed suicide in Beijing in 1966, a few years after being labelled an anti-Maoist and counter-revolutionary by the Red Guards.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more