Reviews of The Mouse Deer Kingdom

‘Chiew-Siah Tei is a master storyteller, and a rare talent, with that magical ability of being able to weave a spell over her readers, with riveting plots and prose that glows with life.’ – Time Out, Hong Kong

 ‘[A] skilful tale of love, betrayal, and making a fresh start . . . a story full of complexity and intelligence . . . [a] rewarding and important novel.’ – Scotsman

‘Tei excels in a series of wonderfully vivid setpieces, including an account of a typhoon that reaches a Conradian pitch of intensity.’ – Independent

‘A deep and affecting exploration of assimilation and displacement, migration and adaptation . . . Chiew-Siah Tei’s understanding of disgrace, ruin and ambition, human cruelty, homesickness, heartache and the illusion of happiness, along with her grasp of the nature of commerce, greed, prejudice and hate, make this a heartfelt story.’ – Asian Review of Books

‘It’s an extraordinary story, little known if at all in this country – but what enchanted me is that it’s primarily such a highly sophisticated storyteller’s book. It draws on ancient folk-tales from the Malaysian forest – and on the history of Chinese commercial emigration at the start of the twentieth century – cross-cutting between them to turn our conventional notions of colonial expansion and exploitation inside out and upside down. I found it hard to put down.’ – Hilary Spurling

‘This is a beautiful little book, to be sure; a tragic family saga along the lines of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life about outsiders in a land that seems set on smiting them’

Reviews of Little Hut of Leaping Fishes

‘The strength of the book, is its portrayal of individuals struggling as the world around them changes.’ — Financial Times

‘[a] lengthy but accessible historical saga…For such a populous story the style is deceptively light, the touch sensuous.’ — Guardian’…confines of the family mansion, the rivalries, adulteries, and jealousies, are all vividly evoked in fresh and exuberant prose.’
— New Books

‘Tei keeps the reader entertained with her graceful observations and steady handling of a significant slice of Chinese history.’ — Sunday Herald

‘What makes the novel remarkable is the way Tei has crafted a literary form all of her own. Her writing has the subtleties and nuances of Chinese prose – where metaphors are often used to describe the exterior of an object or person, thereby revealing its inner state – yet is written in masterful English, creating a strikingly original voice.’ – Timeout, hong Kong

‘Tei unfolds the story like a bolt of silk.’ — The Scotsman

‘The book has a tempo of its own… Sit down with a large cup of coffee and enjoy. Recommended.’ — Historical Novels Review

‘Little Hut of Leaping Fishes is a remarkable first novel offering readers a glimpse into the complexity of Imperial Chinese family dynamics and the strengths and weaknesses of feudal family expectations, rituals and responsibilities. The deeper themes are balanced by very real and well-portrayed characters, particularly the central character of Mingzhi, ensuring that readers will find the novel not only enlightening, but also enjoyable.’ –

‘Tei manages plenty of unexpected plot twists and turns, from brutal rivalries to unexpected friendships to unrequited love.’ – Book Dragon, Smithsonian Asia Pacific American Center