“Evocative…The Emperor of Shoes underscores the extent to which the promise of economic opportunity still moves people across great distances on our planet…[A novel] of our times…”—New York Times Book Review
*A Library Journal Best Debut of Summer 2018*
From an exciting new voice in literary fiction, a transfixing story about an expatriate in southern China and his burgeoning relationship with a seamstress intent on inspiring dramatic political change
Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line.
When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow laborers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?
|Publisher:||Hanover Square Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Born in Boston, Spencer Wise is a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Texas at Austin and worked in the editorial departments at Sports Illustrated and Time Out New York. His work has appeared in Narrative magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Florida Review, and New Ohio Review. He is the winner of the 2017 Gulf Coast Prize in nonfiction. Wise teaches at Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The emperor of shoes is clearly a good and memorable read: unlike thrillers or some fast-paced genres, this book is a slow read which you taste profoundly the story between Alex and Ivy and his path in the shoe factory. Alex is soon to be the leader in his family-owned company and Ivy is an ordinary (older-than-him) employee. At first, I didn't relate myself to this couple, as well as Alex's involvement with the company. Nevertheless, as soon as you dive into the plot, you start to appreciate the natural bond between Alex and Ivy and how Alex becomes more relevant in all the scenario. There's a deep exploration of Chinese's culture about the strict politics, bad working conditions (lack of basic human rights) and cultural revolution. In addition, the son-father rivalry and all the dirty minds that we can imagine in the business world are well described in this book. Spencer Wise portrays magnificently the current reality of China as I could put myself into the characters and feel their struggles and desire to change the harsh truth. The emperor of shoes is a beautifully written and thought provoking read.
Life always seems to be in a state of flux. As we grow, we develop relationships, some of them tenuous which have a pull and tug connection between our selves and our world in which we live. Alex Cohen is a young Jewish man living in Southern China. He and his father own a shoe factory and have a relationship that can be considered at times contentious. Alex's dad is the boss. His word is law and though at times his words to Alex are funny, they often hurt. Alex is in a relationship with a Chinese revolutionary, a young girl who works in the factory. She and others are looking to change China. They want a more democratic form of leadership and as Alex assumes and becomes the head of the company, he sees how the workers are being exploited. Alex loves his father and yet when he sees the climate the workers are forced to be in, and their plight, it sets him on a collision course against the father who has always been his rock. Alex runs up against the idealism of what he wants to see happening and the love of a father and the heritage he carries. He also finds himself in a dangerous situation with the powers that be. Alex's father is ambitious, wanting success to be theirs, always striving for more, often disregarding how one does acquire that more. China is portrayed, twenty five years after Tiananmen Square, as being a place ripe for democracy yet controlled by a few who would use any means to keep their position. It is a place ripe for change and as Alex himself fells change coming, he witnesses not only a country, a people wanting to so embrace human rights and needs, but he himself grabbing onto change within the person he strives to be. Beautifully written, this story unfolds among a world that is changing too fast for some. Can Alex find that freedom he longs for, freedom from his father, freedom from heritage, and freedom that will not shatter everything? Can he save the relationship he has had with his father and with the young Chinese revolutionary, Ivey? "Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it's better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together." Can China also find their way in recognizing the human in every person who lives and works within their massive country? Thank you to Spencer Wise, Hanover Publishing, and Edelweiss for an advanced copy of this book. It was quite an interesting look into a world where freedom is not really free.