We wanted to do another bookish meme on Wednesday and after doing Can’t Wait Wednesday a few times we decided that would be a fun one to bring around more often! About twice a month you’ll see this meme on our blog.
Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
Ocean’s Eleven meets The Farewell in Portrait of a Thief, a lush, lyrical heist novel inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums, about diaspora, the colonization of art, and the complexity of the Chinese American identity.
History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.
Will Chen plans to steal them back.
A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son that has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a shadowy Chinese corporation reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.
His crew is every heist archetype one can imagine—or at least, the closest he can get. A conman: Irene Chen, Will’s sister and a public policy major at Duke, who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering student who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.
Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted attempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.
With poetic language, a fun, commercial hook, and a plot that spans the Western world, Portrait of a Thief is both a cultural heist and an examination of the Chinese American identity, as well as a necessary critique of the lingering effects of colonialism that readers won’t want to miss.
Well, that was a long synopsis haha. And to be honest, they already had me at the first line. Ocean’s Eleven is one of my favorite movies ever so comparing a book to it hooks me immediately. The heist trope is on of my absolute favorites and I’m always on the look out for another heist story.
I love that this is inspired by a true historical events and I think this is going to be so interesting. It will talk about the lingering effects of colonialism and I think I definitely need more education on that front so it will be good to read about it.
I have a feeling this book might also be fun! And who doesn’t love a fun book every now and then. This is Grace’s debut novel and I can’t wait to try her work. I haven’t heard that many people talk about this book and I hope this post brings it a bit more attention!