Peter Moss
India (1947) Malaya (1957) Hong Kong (1997)   A Journey through the Twilight of Empire   Lichen Books
 
Works

River in Search of a Sea

River in Search of a Sea
by Peter Moss

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Description

This is a hard country. Underlying even the rich veldt of the plateau, with its accentuated colours and over-brilliant skies, is a bedrock that has broken hearts, wills, marriages and lives. Despite its huge spaces, it instills an urge for withdrawal. Its tribes gather within their kraals against nocturnal predators and invasion by other tribes. And the last arrivals, the most powerful tribe of all, has built the biggest and grandest kraals to see them through the eternity of their tenure here.

Seven people—four of them Afrikaner and three black—meet in the wastelands south of the Mozambique border to learn of the genocide hatched in South African laboratories. But there is so much conflict between them that they may never agree on the one chance to reveal those plans to the world at large.

Peter Moss draws upon his experience of Tongaland to conceive what might have been had the world known earlier of the human rights abuses that only came to light in the course of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. River in Search of a Sea is his fifth novel.




White Guerrilla

White Guerrilla
by Peter Moss

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Description

One of Hong Kong’s oldest hongs has accidentally acquired an antiquated refinery on a remote island in the southern Philippines, run by a tyrannical sugar baron as his feudal fiefdom. And now its blue-eyed young executive has been kidnapped by guerrillas bent on toppling the baron and his regime. Worse, the kidnap victim has uncovered unsavory facts that could greatly embarrass his parent corporation, and has thrown in his lot with his captors in their struggle for justice.


“A methodically presented tale set firmly within the new international world order … a competent, canny piece of intrigue.”— Kirkus Discoveries




Landfall

Landfall
by Peter Moss

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Description

An unexpected letter from Tokyo impels a Canadian accountant to break his resolution never to revisit the past. Hunting out an old journal, he relives his adventures on the far side of the Pacific, when he sought redemption for his sins among primitive but contented islanders. There he aided Japanese veterans in their search for a World War 2 flying boat, put an elderly English spinster in touch with her half-caste nephew and helped a tribe to preserve its age-old customs. Only now, ten years later, does he learn that, in the process, he may have forfeited the greatest opportunity of his life. In Landfall, his fourth novel, Peter Moss explores the myriad miscommunications, misunderstandings and mysteries of the human heart.




The Age of Elephants

The Age of Elephants
by Peter Moss

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Description

“The filaments that enmeshed them in Durbar Court were the stories they wove. Leila, who never contributed any herself, claimed that without them the resident behemoths would fall permanently asleep. It was a soporific summer. An extraordinary summer, as if the mechanism of the seasons had broken down, stranding them in a time locked vault of cloudless blue. The garden parasols were giant sundials around which carousels of shadow clocked the intervals from breakfast to supper. Only the bearers punctuated the hours, padding out to them with trays of lemon cordial and iced tea.”

This second novel by Peter Moss, whose first, The Singing Tree, was described by the New York Times as ‘a little gem’, draws heavily upon his memories of an Indian childhood to populate a recreated cameo of imperial India, set on the south coast of England. Here relics of the British Raj, living out their sequestered lives immersed in nostalgia for a long lost world, lead a casual visitor to confront memories he has desperately endeavoured to erase.


A graceful, elaborate…tale of innocents yearning for home. Moss has been a firsthand witness to the fading glory of the British diaspora in exotic locales like India, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Here, he draws heavily on a childhood spent in India to recreate the experiences of expatriates repatriated against their will, caught between a glorious spiritual home and the draw of Queen and country. Moss fosters a charming colonial memory that will speak clearly to anyone who's been away from home a long time. A romanticized, tragic remembrance of well-loved experiences.

-Kirkus Discoveries




No Babylon: A Hong Kong 
Scrapbook

No Babylon: A Hong Kong Scrapbook
by Peter Moss

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Description

Having witnessed Britain’s retreat from India in 1947, and Malaya in 1957, Peter Moss traveled on through the lengthening shadows of a waning Empire, seeking the last remnants of a once flourishing panoply of imperial pomp and circumstance. He arrived in Hong Kong to find this fabled territory less a British colony than a triumph of collective enterprise; no mythic Babylon but a vibrant and compelling reality.

His Hong Kong career spanned four decades, from the spillover of China’s cultural revolution to the return of its prodigal son at midnight on June 30th 1997. In his take on events leading up to that historical watershed he has drawn on Chinese sources to present a wider perspective, and has not flinched from challenging popular perceptions. He saw Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last governor, as a knight in shining armour, riding in at the eleventh hour to slay the dragon. “I felt there was a distinct danger of him accidentally killing the damsel in distress. ”

Many have loved and admired Hong Kong but few have grasped its intricacies. That an enclave so small should have become so powerful, and left such a mark on the world, is a mystery that No Babylon seeks to probe and dispel. “Had he discovered Hong Kong first, Karl Marx might never have written Das Kapital, for this hubble-bubble of experimental capitalist alchemy contradicted so many of his theories”.

"From the highest colonial circles to a working-class estate to an island home that encapsulates the new Hong Kong as it hovers between the past and future: Moss's trajectory mirrors much of the territory's own journey, these past 40 years. And his delighted absorption into the people of Hong Kong—after decades spent inculcating their loyalty to a colonial regime—is, surely, among the happiest of postcolonial endings." Time Magazine

"Your whole autobiographical trilogy seems to me a tremendous achievement, both as a personal and a historical document."— Jan Morris, author of Pax Brittanica




Distant Archipelagos: Memories of 
Malaya

Distant Archipelagos: Memories of Malaya
by Peter Moss

Editors

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Description

He dropped money bags from low-flying biplanes on remote rubber plantations and tin mines, spent nights in deep jungle longhouses, aboard fishing kelongs manned by aboriginals far out at sea, in mosquito-infested swamps collecting malarial parasites and on beaches where giant leatherback turtles came to lay their eggs. He accompanied commonwealth troops hunting for terrorists on the Thai-Malaysian border, flew reconnaissance patrols seeking guerilla camps and escorted Field Marshal Templer on his return visit to the country he had liberated from communist insurrection.

He met Lady Edwina Mountbatten, wife of the architect of India’s independence, interviewed actors Orson Welles and Sir Donald Wolfit, and was conversing with the French Ambassador when a ghost walked into the room. He worked with William Holden, Susannah York and Capucine on a film in which nearly everyone ended up miscast. He helped conceal an escaped prisoner in a hilarious fake jail-break, trailed the Sultan of Pahang on a regal progress through Malaysia’s largest state and befriended one of President Soekarno’s infamous red beret parachutists, sent on a sabotage mission during the height of Indonesian confrontation.

Mostly he loved the land and its people, so much that he shunned the cocktail circuit and the city life for the simple pleasures of the kampong and the open road, learning the language and feeling his way towards what French author Henry Fauconnier had called “the Soul of Malaya”. With Distant Archipelagos, Peter Moss follows up his account of an Anglo-Indian childhood, in Bye-Bye Blackbird, by painting a vivid portrait of another vanished world.

"Your whole autobiographical trilogy seems to me a tremendous achievement, both as a personal and a historical document."— Jan Morris, author of Pax Brittanica




Bye-Bye Blackbird: An Anglo-Indian 
Memoir

Bye-Bye Blackbird: An Anglo-Indian Memoir
by Peter Moss

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Description

Eleven years old when his family joined the Anglo-Indian exodus, on the eve of India’s independence, Peter Moss never felt at home in the postwar austerity of his “father’s land”, where he saw how far and how fast Britain was forsaking both her empire and her greatness. When he returned to his childhood haunts, more than thirty years later, he found his Anglo-India had disappeared, submerged beneath the waves of history.

Bye-Bye Blackbird is more than a loving portrait of that lost world. It is also a wry but affectionate look at Britain, bracing herself for the implosion that would follow the “Big Bang” of her imperial expansion, when the fall-out would come hurtling back to the epicentre and change the very nature of what it meant to be British.

His explorations brought him into contact with a vivid spectrum of characters as diverse as a First World War pilot who duelled with the Red Baron’s successor above the trenches of the Western Front, a sadistic sergeant who loved to be lampooned in caricature, a redoubtable landlady who wouldn’t allow a Kikuyu bishop in her boarding house, Field Marshall Montgomery, Sir Winston Churchill and a mad Irishman who drove him back to India in a battered overland bus.

"Your whole autobiographical trilogy seems to me a tremendous achievement, both as a personal and a historical document."— Jan Morris, author of Pax Brittanica




The Singing Tree

The Singing Tree
by Peter Moss

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Description

Kristian Hardy, an old man closing out his days in the Amazon jungle, was once Kurt Hellmann, the youngest railway stationmaster in Germany. One day as he was serving in that capacity, a phone call caused him to panic and precipitate the deaths of 123 Jews en route to the concentration camps.

Josef Mengele's remains having been identified, Hardy now regards himself as "the last Nazi mass murderer." He teeters just this side of despair, thanks to his love for Eduardo, his housekeeper's small son, and to his losing battle to maintain in good repair the Bechstein grand piano left behind by the plantation's previous owner. Unexpectedly, Hardy finds himself in love—with a young Jewish woman from New York, come to Brazil in search of butterflies, whom Hardy takes for his nemesis, the Nazi hunter of his recurring dreams. Hardy's youthful moment of panic had revealed to him the void at the center of what he had taken to be his values. He longs for punishment but has evaded it until now, when he openly courts an expiatory act.

“In his first novel, Peter Moss has Hardy tell his tale with economy and precision, leading us through a moral landscape as tangled as the Amazon wilderness. Even the touch of sentimentality toward the end tells us much about Hardy, and the unobtrusive ambiguity at the close provides just the right touch of muted dissonance. The Singing Tree is a little gem.”—Frank Wilson, New York Times