A European man arrives in Shanghai, ostensibly on vacation, yet a small task given to him by his Parisian girlfriend Marie starts a series of complications. There is a mysterious Chinese man and a manila envelope full of cash. Later, he meets a woman at an art gallery and they agree to travel together to Beijing, yet when he joins her at the train station, the Chinese man is along. Events eclipse explanations, and soon he surrenders himself to the on-rush of experience.
Toussaint’s latest novel pulls the reader into a jet-lag reality, a confusion of time and place that is both particularly modern and utterly real. The Chaplinesque slapstick of his acclaimed early works The Bathroom and Camera is here replaced by an ever-unfolding fabric of questions, coincidences, and misapprehensions large and small. The mature Toussaint shows himself to be no less ingenious an inventor of existential dilemmas, but with a new, surprising tenderness, and a deepened concern for the inexpressible immediacy and sensuality of human experience.