It’s a common tale: a gunman out for revenge in the American West, whose six-shooter leaves a trail of bodies behind him. But The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, the debut novel from Tom Lin, takes a novel twist on the genre by having its gunman be Ming Tsu: a Chinese man, orphaned in the United States, out on a journey to murder those who press-ganged him to work on the railroads.
But The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is more than that, as it delves into the supernatural, the mystical, and the philosophical as Ming continues his journey across the American West.
In this interview, Tom and I talk about the setting of The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, and his choices around its characters. We’ll also talk about using a Chinese-American main character in a Western-type story: a traditionally “American” genre.
Tom Lin was born in China and immigrated to the United States when he was four. A graduate of Pomona College, he is currently in the PhD program at the University of California, Davis.