The World of Suzie Wong
The World of Suzie Wong is a 1957 novel written by Richard Mason, which has been adapted into a play, spawned two unofficial sequels a hit film, and a ballet.
The book is about a young Englishman, Robert Lomax, who after leaving National Service decided to go and work in the colonies of the British Empire in Malaya on a plantation. Robert Lomax decides as an experiment for one year to pursue a new career as an artist.
He visits Hong Kong in search of inspiration for his paintings where he checks into the Nam Kok Hotel, not realizing, at first, that it is an unofficial brothel catering mainly to British and American sailors. However, the discovery of that fact only makes the hotel more charming in Lomax's opinion and a better source of subject matter for his paintings.
He quickly befriends most of the hotel's bargirls but is most fascinated by the archetypal "hooker with a heart of gold", Suzie Wong, who had previously introduced herself to him as Wong Mee-ling, a rich virgin whose father had five houses and more cars than she could count, and initially pretended not to recognize him at the hotel. Lomax had originally decided that he would not sleep with any of the bargirls at the hotel because he would be living with them for a long time and did not want to put a strain on their relationships. However, it soon emerges that Suzie Wong is interested in him, not as a customer but as a serious boyfriend. Although Suzie Wong becomes the kept woman of two other men and Robert Lomax becomes attracted to a young female British nurse though this does not go very far. Lomax and Wong are eventually reunited and the novel ends happily.
Film, TV and theatrical adaptations
The novel was first adapted into a stage production and was first produced in 1958 by David Merrick and starred William Shatner and France Nuyen. Tsai Chin played the title role in the West End 1959 production. The book was later adapted into a hit 1960 film, directed by Richard Quine and starring William Holden, Nancy Kwan, Sylvia Syms, and Michael Wilding.
In March 2006 a new dance version by Stephen Jefferies, entitled Suzie Wong, was premiered by the Hong Kong Ballet.