The Red Thread

Originally published by Chronicle Books (2000)
Faber & Faber and Hardie Grant Books (2001)
Buy the ebook.

Published in Chinese: Hongxian (The Red Thread) translated by Li Yao, Peoples’ Literature Publishing House Beijing (2007)

‘This is a book of subtle contrasts and exquisite brush strokes. Its unforced sense of mystery derives not from whimsy but from the subtle substance of experience.’  Tom Deveson, The Sunday Times

‘In Jose’s stylish romance, modern-day Shanghai is a forward-looking economic empire, yet still a city consumed by its past … Jose’s use of Shen Fu’s memoir is quirky and inventive … his tale lingers well after the last page.’ – Publishers Weekly (US)

‘The elegance of a tour de force always rests upon a deceptive appearance of effortlessness.’ – Pierre Ryckmans, The Australian’s Review of Books

A seductive love story set in contemporary Shanghai, The Red Thread intertwines the lives of two pairs of lovers across the centuries. Shen is a young, American-educated appraiser for an auction house. Ruth is a gifted Australian artist he meets, it seems, by chance. And Han is a beautiful, enigmatic woman who both facilitates and complicates their relationship. Yet all three lives mysteriously mirror characters described in a rare, eighteenth-century book that comes up for auction – a book that is missing its final chapters. As the characters in the original tale move toward an ominous, unknown end, Shen’s search for the missing pages goes from curiosity to desperation as he hopes to discover – and perhaps alter – his fated future with Ruth.