Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007
Penang, 1939. Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Engo, a Japanese diplomat who trains him in the art and discipline of aikido.
But the enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philiip's family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei has been harbouring a devastating secret. Philip must risk everything to save those closest to him and to discover who and what he really is.