THIS is celebrated Malaysian author Tash Aw’s fourth work of fiction and fifth book.
The two-time Booker Prize Longlister (for The Harmony Silk Factory and Five Star Billionaire) and Whitbread Award winner for best debut novel (The Harmony Silk Factory) still continues to create compelling characters.
This is evident when you look at this book’s protagonist – Ah Hock – a man who works hard to break out of the cycle of poverty that has befallen him and his mother.
Despite his efforts to provide well for his mother and wife, the odds are always stacked against him.
While trying to help out his friend, Keong, to round up some missing migrant workers who did not turn up for work, Ah Hock accidentally kills a Bangladeshi worker during a fight, and is jailed.
Years later, despite having served his punishment, Ah Hock finds it hard trying to make his way in a world that seems somewhat alien to him. Still, he perseveres.
Ah Hock’s story is set in the present day, with flashbacks to flesh out his past.
His problems are relatable to anyone who has ever worked hard to make a living, but who has found themselves still stuck going nowhere.
Essentially, We the Survivors is about the invisible people among us whom most of us would barely acknowledge unless we have to: the poor, the migrants workers, and the oppressed.