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  • Tongueless

Serpents Tail


by Yee-Wa Lau.

Translated from Chinese by Jennifer Feeley.

  • £14.99
  • Available
  • Paperback published on 06/06/2024
  • Page count: 304 pages
  • ISBN: 9781800812819
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Quick take

A gripping psychological thriller steeped in the current political tensions in Hong Kong.


Tongueless follows two rival teachers at a secondary school in Hong Kong who are instructed to switch from teaching in Cantonese to Mandarin—or lose their jobs. Apolitical and focusing on surviving and thriving in their professional environment, Wai and Ling each approach the challenge differently. Wai, awkward and unpopular, becomes obsessed with Mandarin learning; Ling, knowing how to please her superiors and colleagues, thinks she can tactfully dodge the Mandarin challenge by deploying her social savviness. Wai eventually crumples under the pressure and dies by suicide, leaving her colleague Ling to face seismic political and cultural change alone as she considers how far she will go to survive such a ruthlessly competitive work environment.

Sharp, darkly humorous, and politically pointed, Tongueless presciently engages with important issues facing Hong Kong today during which so much of the city’s uniqueness—especially its language—is at risk of being erased.

About the author

Lau Yee-Wa is one of Hong Kong’s most exciting up-and-coming fiction authors. Lau began her literary career writing poetry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where she obtained her BA in Chinese language and literature, and her Master’s degree in philosophy.

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More books published by Serpents Tail

Pete Ayrton founded Serpent’s Tail in 1986 with a mission to introduce British readers to risk-taking world literature no one else in the UK was publishing. The list established a reputation for its diversity of voice and fearlessness.

View all books by Serpents Tail

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