In That Man in Our Lives
, New York-Hong Kong author Xu Xi extends the fictional universe of her earlier novels. New York is the perch from which she examines the shifting balance of power between China and the U.S., set against a tale of lifelong friendships between Gordon Ashberry - Gordie - or - Hui Guo 灰果 - and his two best friends Harold Haight and Larry Woo and their families.
Born to wealthy East Coast parents, Gordon is a Sinophile who has never held a job, married or raised children. His one attempt in his thirties to run an aircraft leasing business almost ends in bankruptcy and the loss of his inheritance. When Gordon turns fifty, he tells Harold, a tax lawyer, that he wants to give all his money away. An opportunistic young Chinese writer learns of this, she approaches him to write a book (Honey Money) about his decision, and upon publication it becomes a minor cult success.
The ensuing publicity sends him into a self-imposed exile for several years, including from all his friends. The novel opens in March 2003 when Gordon is fifty-five and decides to disappear during a flight delay in Tokyo. The pre and post fallout around that disappearance informs this novel about the friend who has always been in your life, until he isn’t, and how much or little we know of those we think we know well.
Originally inspired by John Adams' opera - Nixon in China - a large cast of characters traverse the globe in search of this missing Gatsby-ish protagonist. That Man in Our Live
s is Xu’s metafictional answer to the late 18th Century Chinese classic novel, Cao Xueqin’s Dreams of Red Chambers