José Rodrigues dos Santos


O Império do Meio

(The Middle Kingdom)


War breaks in Spain and Japan invades China. A love affair in the Azores, a bomb attack on Salazar and court intrigue in Tokyo precipitates the meeting of colonel Artur Teixeira with consul Satake Fukui in the most dangerous of cities – Adolf Hitler’s Berlin.

Lian-hua, the blue-eyed Chinese girl, is promised to a stranger when the Japanese enter Beijing and her life is turned upside-down. The same happens to Nadezhda Skuratova in Shanghai, where she falls in love with a Portuguese man who will force her into an impossible choice.

The Berlin of blackout nights, of perpetual rumours and jokes, of the Adlon Hotel, of swastikas that shine in darkness and of empty shops with full showcases; the Beijing of the marrying mei po, of the silk chi pao, of pitiable coolies and exotic rickshaws; the Tokyo of the Imperial Hotel, of the Kantei coups, of zen an the giri and ôn honour codes; and the Shanghai of the International Concession, of the Portuguese Clube Lusitano, of gleaming billboards, of the Bund, of beautiful Russian taxi-girls and sordid brothels.

The master of contemporary fiction, José Rodrigues dos Santos is back with a great novel concluding the unforgettable story of four lives that totalitarianism shaped. Readable as an autonomous book, The Middle Kingdom closes in great style the controversial The Lotus Trilogy, one of the most ambitious and provocative pieces of fiction in contemporary Portuguese literature.