The Road to Wanting

Wendy Law-Yone

pages March 2011 manuscript in English Literary Fiction

Longlisted for the Orange Prize 2011

“Wendy Law-Yone does not merely report on a lost world: she recreates it in words for our benefit. In a clear-cut style, lucid and poetic, she offers us the experience of loss, learning and redemption. The Road to Wanting is a hauntingly beautiful book.”  – Alberto Manguel

Wendy Law-Yone’s novel takes us to the heart of a forgotten world, seen through the eyes of a young heroine whose search for a better life has led her to Wanting, a town on the border of Burma and China.

Some call it China’s Wild West – a boom town on the border with Burma. In the new Chinese economy of the late 1980’s, the frontier at Wanting is a magnet for outcasts and opportunists. Or the desperate – like Na Ga. To Na Ga, the town of Wanting represents not the beginning of a new life, but the end of the road. Will, her American lover, has thrown her out – as she always expected he would – leaving her with painful memories, a dollar bank account and a one-way ticket back to Burma.

Burma, however, holds no appeal for Naga. She may have been born in its hills, but she has left them far, far behind. Yet, caught in a cycle of yearning and betrayal, she finds herself inevitably on a home-bound path.

Taking the reader on a journey from the remote tribal villages of northern Burma, to ex-pat life in Rangoon under a grim military regime, and then, in shocking scenes, to the brothels of Thailand and the hedonism of Bangkok, The Road to Wanting traces the life of a young woman whose fate is always in the hands of others, be they well-meaning Americans or provincial pimps.
Full of the glare and shadows of the East, this haunting journey opens up places often hidden to Western eyes, revealing ancient cruelties, as well as the redemptive power in facing-and forgiving-the truth.

Wendy Law-Yone was born in Mandalay, Burma. She now lives in the UK. Her previous novels include Irrawady Tango and The Coffin Tree.

Praise for Irrawady Tango:
“[Irrawaddy] Tango‘s narration is as stylish, restrained, violent, and full of thrilling juxtapositions and reversals as that dance.” – New Yorker

“[T]here is no doubt that [Irrawaddy Tango] is the work of a very fine writer indeed.” – Washington Post Book World

“Law-Yone’s prose … is delightful and witty, and Tango is a lively, smart wisecracker who, despite the gravity of her world, keeps us laughing.” – Booklist  

Praise for The Coffin Tree:
“It combines the exquisite palpability of dreams with an earthy sense of irony … an uncanny talent for defining the boundaries of sanity and making madness palpable. . . . A virtuoso piece of writing.”  – New York Times Book Review

“[A] poignant new addition to an honored literary tradition…rang[ing] from de Tocqueville to…Sevan-Schreiver – and outsider’s reflections on America.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“The reader must move to exotic places, to Burma. to New York. to a mental ward for an affirmative finale. The reader must move almost without transitions but with . empathy, crammed full. Must move, will be moved.” – Los Angeles Times

“Law-Yone writes with a…sense of incongruity…It is one of her many gifts, which…promise much for the future.” – The Nation