Publication Date: April 4, 2023
|On our shelves now
Now in paperback and in the vein of Ocean’s Eleven meets The Farewell in Portrait of a Thief, a lush, lyrical heist novel inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums; about diaspora, the colonization of art, and the complexity of the Chinese American identity.
History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.
Will Chen plans to steal them back.
A senior at Harvard and art history major, everything changes for Will when a mysterious Chinese benefactor reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer: a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.
Assembling a crew of fellow college students with each one playing their part as leader, conman, thief, getaway driver and hacker, each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.
Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted attempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.
Equal parts beautiful, thoughtful, and thrilling, Portrait of a Thief is a cultural heist and an examination of Chinese American identity, as well as a necessary critique of the lingering effects of colonialism.
Story Locale:Southern California, China, New York, Norway
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