Money makes Beijing go round in Jonathan Tel’s seductive, puzzle-like novel-in-stories.
China is the center of the world, and the center of China is Beijing, and at the center of Beijing is a billionaire financier named Qin. At the opening of this novel-in-stories, billionaire Qin is lying in state at his funeral, victim of a sudden and premature death. Moving back and forth in time, we meet a wide range of Chinese, all linked to Qin by a degree or two of separation: a property developer, a street artist, a prostitute, a fashion model, a spy, a thief, an expat lawyer, a muckraking journalist. By the end of this biting, post-post-modern cultural observation, the manner of Qin’s death is revealed. Scratching the Head of Chairman Mao presents today’s China in its full and fabulous complexity.