Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef (Gods and Monsters) - Cassandra Khaw

If the cover didn't sufficiently warn you, I will make clear: you need to have a stomach for the gory and gruesome to read this book.  I can't say I enjoyed the experience much myself. Every time I set the book down, I found myself reluctant to pick it up and discover how much guts were splattered on the next page.


That apart, it's clever enough.  This book is Malaysian and jumps right in to the setting, leaving the reader to look up local terminology if they need to.  It's narrated by Rupert Wong, a criminal who is paying off his former crimes by acting as chef to anthropophagous Malay gods.  (They like exotic cuisine as much as anyone and thus prefer the taste of Westerners.)  One day the Dragon King of the South summons Rupert to track down whoever killed his daughter: puzzlingly, it seems to have been the Greek Furies.  The penalty for failure is dire, of course; success may pay off his debt and that of his wife, a blood-drinking langsuir.  Thus begins a breathless chase through Kuala Lumpur, hindered by its many very unpleasant supernatural inhabitants.


Rupert's perspective is a thoroughly amoral one; he cares about no one but himself and his wife, and no, he won't be redeemed in this book, nor will he do anything to make the world a better place.  The machinations of the gods are thoroughly cynical too. Rupert is quite aware how corrupt everything is, and talks about it with considerable irony.  The role of Western tourists and entrepreneurs, and the attitude of mingled envy and exploitation that Malaysians take toward them, come in for some sharp digs.  I can't quite grasp the significance of having the supernatural representatives of the West be the Furies.  At any rate, for some reason while Rupert is telling this story he is speaking to someone he addresses as "ang moh" (a somewhat impolite term for a white person); it's never explained who this is or why Rupert's talking to them.  Maybe the reading audience, since the book was published in Britain.  Whovever this person is, they have little reason to feel comfortable or superior.