The Expatriates

From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Piano Teacher, a beautiful, transporting novel about motherhood, marriage, and friendship Janice Y. K. Lee’s blockbuster hit debut, The Piano Teacher, was called “immensely satisfying” by People, “intensely readable” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and “a rare and exquisite story” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now, in her long-awaited new novel, Lee explores with devastating poignancy the emotions, identities, and relationships of three very different American women living in the same small expat community in Hong Kong.
The American Club (Tai Tam)
Home away from home for many Americans. Country club with pool, tennis and other sports activities, town club with restaurants for business meetings and meals. Understands that, for Americans, ice is important and that a Diet Coke and Coke Light are not the same thing. Weekdays are a riot of mothers, domestic helpers and children, weekends are for families.
The South Side
Seaside locale which is home to many expatriate families, close to schools and clubs and an easy commute to Central. Includes Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay, Stanley and Tai Tam. The 'burbs.
Central (business district)
Iconic skyline and harbor, home to many corporate headquarters and high-end shopping malls. Men and women in business suits walk with purpose from office buildings to lunches.
Sheung Wan (where Mercy lives)
Neighborhood next to Central that is slowly getting gentrified with trendy restaurants, shops and bars. Still possible (though increasingly difficult) to find affordable housing here a stone's throw from the middle of town. Still has old Hong Kong feel in certain quarters, with street markets, herbal medicine shops and small daipaidongs.
Wanchai (night district)
Immortalized in The World of Suzie Wong, the once-seedy red-light district is falling prey to the mall-ification of Hong Kong with pricey shops, gastro-pubs and tiny studio apartments going for outrageous sums popping up daily. Still, at night, adventurers, sailors and bargirls crowd the streets.
Happy Valley (Margaret's apartment)
The area around the race track. On one side, a neighborhood with a lovely sense of character, family-run businesses, low-rise apartments and quiet side streets. On the other side, going towards Wanchai or Causeway Bay, a more commercial thoroughfare with lots of apartments crammed into mid-rise buildings (where Margaret is)
Excerpt from ‘The Expatriates’
The new expatriates arrive practically on the hour, every day of the week. They get off Cathay Pacific flights from New York, BA from London, Garuda from Jakarta, ANA from Tokyo, carrying briefcases, carrying Louis Vuitton handbags, carrying babies and bottles, carrying exhaustion and excitement and frustration. They have mostly been cramped in coach, a precious few have drunk champagne in first, others have watched two movies in business class, eating a ham and brie sandwich. They are thrilled, they are homesick, they are scared, they are relieved to have arrived in Hong Kong—their new home for six months, a year, three-year contract max, forever, nobody knows. They are fresh-faced, they are mid-career, hoping for that crucial boost up the ladder, they are here for their last job, the final rung before they’re put out to pasture. They work at banks, they work at law firms, they make buttons, clothing, hard drives, toys, they run restaurants, they are bartenders, they are yoga teachers, they are designers, they are architects. They don’t work. They are hoping to work. They are done, done, done with work. They arrive in January, after Christmas, they arrive in June after the kids get out from school, they arrive in August, when school is about to start, they arrive whenever the company books their ticket. They come with their families, or with their wives, or their boyfriends, or resolutely single, or hoping to meet someone. They are Chinese, Irish, French, Korean, American, a veritable UN of fortune-seekers, willing sheep, life-changers, come to find their future selves.

Press & Review

“Raise a glass: The first great book-club novel of 2016 has arrived.” 4/4 stars — USA Today   Read review
“A thoughtful portrait of motherhood’s trade-offs, the book also offers harp insights into the tensions between moneyed expats and the impoverished locals who serve them.” — People, “The Best New Books”   Read review
“One chief pleasure of The Expatriates is watching how the lives of Hilary, Mercy and Margaret converge and are changed by that convergence, and how they each metabolize grief. A more subtle yet lingering benefit is getting to know Lee’s acutely observed Hong Kong, a city on the cusp of change that must eventually affect the lives of expatriates and locals alike.” — Los Angeles Times   Read review
“A nuanced reminder of how shockingly easy it can be to lose everything in a moment and of how to reinvent one’s life after a fall.” — San Francisco Chronicle   Read review
“At turns illuminating, entertaining, cringe-inducing, piercing . . . With meticulous details and nuanced observations, Lee creates an exquisite novel of everyday lives in extraordinary circumstances. . . . How Lee’s triumvirate reacts, copes, and ventures forth (or not) proves to be a stupendous feat of magnetic, transporting storytelling. . . . Mark my words: The Expatriates will appear repeatedly on year-end award nominations and all the ‘best of’ compilations.” — Christian Science Monitor   Read review
“Powerful [and] nuanced . . . poignant and compelling . . . The Expatriates moves with urgency, but also takes time to slowly reveal a complex story. Lee’s storytelling is intricate, precise and rich enough to keep the reader seduced until the end.” — Seattle Times   Read review
“A singularly different expat novel . . . that focuses on the internal life of its women . . . and that’s precisely the temperature where it simmers best.” —   Read review
“A female, funny Henry James in Asia, Janice Y.K. Lee, is vividly good on the subject of Americans abroad.” — The New York Times Book Review   Read review
“One of the novel’s strength is Lee’s exploration of the sometimes subtle interplay between different layers and types of privilege; another is her empathy for the loneliness that her characters must endure.” — The Financial Times (UK)   Read review
“[One of the] buzziest titles this season.” — Wall Street Journal   Read review
“[Lee] gently conveys her sad characters’ loneliness, suffering and anguish.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune   Read review
“Everyone’s buzzing about The Expatriates. . . . These women and their stories will pull at every string in your heart.” — Bustle   Read review
“Like Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah, Lee is a perceptive observer of her compelling characters and brings them vividly to life in this moving novel.” — Bookpage   Read review
“An emotionally gripping page-turner.”     — Elle   Read review
“Gorgeously wrought . . . The first must-read of 2016.” — Marie Claire   Read review
“We found ourselves racing through this exotic, sexy, heartbreaking book. . . . We couldn’t wait to find out what happens to each of the women.” — Glamour   Read review
“Little is written about the rarefied world of American expats… We imagine we know these women… but we don’t. Janice Y. K. Lee does.” — Vanity Fair   Read review
“Nails family trauma and gentrified Hong Kong” — New York Mag   Read review
“Absorbing, poignant… a great read and a testament to the strength and resilience we all have” — Redbook   Read review
“Brilliantly plotted and written, utterly absorbing, often heartbreaking, The Expatriates looks set to be one of the books of the year.” — Daily Mail (UK)   Read review
“Devastating and heartwarming, and exquisite in every way, this is a book you’ll fall deeply in love with and never want to put down.” — Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians  
“Shine[s] a penetrating light on both the ups and downs of the expat experience and the resilience of the human spirit.” — Literary Review (UK)  
“A richly detailed novel that rubs away at the luster of expat life and examines how the bonds of motherhood or, really, womanhood, can call back even those who are furthest adrift.” — Kirkus Reviews   Read review
“A captivating book about three American women living in an expatriate community in Hong Kong . . . Lee’s women are complex and often flawed, which makes the stories of their strength all the more compelling in this tale of family, motherhood, and attempts at moving on.” — Publishers Weekly   Read review