The Map of Lost Memories: A Novel

Fay, Kim

Published by Ballantine Books, 2013
ISBN 10: 0345531426 / ISBN 13: 9780345531421
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Synopsis: 2013 Edgar Award Finalist for Best First Novel by an American Author

In 1925 the international treasure-hunting scene is a man's world, and no one understands this better than Irene Blum, who is passed over for a coveted museum curatorship because she is a woman. Seeking to restore her reputation, she sets off from Seattle in search of a temple believed to house the lost history of Cambodia's ancient Khmer civilization. But her quest to make the greatest archaeological discovery of the century soon becomes a quest for her family's secrets. Embracing the colorful and corrupt world of colonial Asia in the early 1900s, The Map of Lost Memories takes readers into a forgotten era where nothing is as it seems.  As Irene travels through Shanghai's lawless back streets and Saigon's opium-filled lanes, she joins forces with a Communist temple robber and an intriguing nightclub owner with a complicated past. Deep within the humidity-soaked Cambodian jungle, what they bring to light does more than change history. It ultimately solves the mysteries of their own lives.
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Praise for The Map of Lost Memories

 
"In The Map of Lost Memories, Kim Fay draws us into a universe as exotic, intense, and historically detailed as the ancient artifacts her unforgettable heroine seeks. It's a deliciously unexpected journey: Indiana Jones meets Somerset Maugham meets Marguerite Duras."--Jennifer Cody Epstein, author of The Painter from Shanghai
 
"A thrilling mix of adventure and personal discovery . . . [Kim] Fay crafts an intricate page-turner that will keep readers breathless and guessing."--Publishers Weekly
 
"A ripping good tale . . . mysterious Asian locations . . . a driven young American heroine . . . an era no longer remembered but faded to romantic imagination . . . The Map of Lost Memories pulls the components together in a story that intrigues and rewards."--Lincoln Journal Star
 
"Fay's extraordinary novel has everything great historical-adventure fiction should--a strikingly original setting, exhilarating plot twists, and a near-impossible quest."--Booklist (starred review)

Review:

Kim Fay on The Map of Lost Memories

The Map of Lost Memories holds a special place in my heart. When I was a child, my grandfather lived with my family, and at night he would sit on the side of my bed and tell me stories about his life as a sailor in Asia in the 1930s. Together we would pore over his photos, most of which were of Shanghai and showed an exotic world of rickshaws and sampans against a backdrop of majestic European buildings.

As I grew up, my fascination with Asia simmered within me until I graduated from college and made my first trip. I was smitten by the sodden heat, the smell of incense and jasmine down hidden lanes, and the magical combination of foreignness and familiarity. I continued to return to that part of the world until finally I moved to Vietnam. It was there that I read about Andre and Clara Malraux, a French couple who looted a Cambodian temple in the 1920s to raise money for the Communist party. With that, the first glimmer of my novel appeared.

In the following years, surrounded by the remnants of French colonialism, I could not stop thinking about the Westerners who came to Asia to claim a piece of it for themselves. I began to research every bit of information available on the history of illicit art collecting at the beginning of the twentieth century. I traveled to Shanghai to trace the stories my grandfather once told me. And I went to Angkor Wat. I had read so much about this temple and thought about it for such a long time, and still its grandeur stunned me.

Shaped by all of these experiences and my great passion for Asia, The Map of Lost Memories is both an adventure novel and a time capsule.

 

One of my gramps' photos of Shanghai that inspired The Map of Lost Memories

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An abandoned Khmer temple in the jungles of Cambodia in the 1920s

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A deserted hallway in Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple in the 1920s

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Map of Lost Memories: A Novel
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: 2013
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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