Kai Lung’s Golden Hours

ISBN: 1406735450
ISBN 13: 9781406735451
By: Ernest Bramah

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About this book

As with other Kai Lung novels, the main plot serves primarily as a vehicle for the presentation of the gem-like, aphorism-laden stories told by the protagonist Kai Lung, an itinerant story-teller of ancient China. In Kai Lung's Golden Hours he is brought before the court of the Mandarin Shan Tien on charges of treason by the Mandarin's confidential agent Ming-shu. In a unique defense, Kai Lung recites his beguiling tales to the Mandarin, successfully postponing his conviction time after time until he is finally set free. In the process he attains the love and hand of the maiden Hwa-Mei.

Reader's Thoughts


I had always been curious about this book since Dorothy Sayers refers to it so often, and something recently made me go looking for it. I'm very, very glad I found it! It's a marvel of sly humor and wicked commentary about people in general. The same way I can pick up Murder Must Advertise and see parallels to workplaces I've been in, Kai Lung reminds me that human nature hasn't really changed since either book was written.The style can be a bit difficult to get through, but it is well worth the effort. The ornate language somehow makes Bramah's observations all the more cutting. It's hard to believe I would never have heard of this book if it hadn't been for Sayers.


Every edition shown says that this book was 1st published in 1972. This is impossible, since Dorothy L Sayers refers to it in Busman's Honeymoon, which was set in 1935. There must have been an earlier edition. I think I read an edition my mother had.Anyway, my impression is that, as with most anthologies, it was uneven in quality, but I liked the language overall.


Kai Lung's golden hours by Ernest Bramah (1957)


Delightful book in which the framing narrative sets up the opportunity for the protagonist to tell a plethora of stories. Drags a bit in the middle, but enjoyable. A British book about China and over a hundred years old, so expect a little Orientalism. I absolutely love the pretentious self-abasement.

Alex Weinle

A tapestry of stories laid within each other, wonderfully thoughtful and spun. As the wise man says, a review may be read once with disbelief but with the second time comes understanding.

Michael Lilliquist

Written by a British writer nearly a century ago about an even more distant time in late imperial China, this book should not be taken as historically or culturally accurate (although it's not that far off the mark) -- but simply as storytelling. In many ways, "Golden Hours" is very similar to "Arabian Nights." Both are a collection of pseudo-folk tales strung together by a frame story about the fictional storyteller him/herself. In both cases, the stories vary in tone and mood from serious to funny, and sometimes there are stories within stories. Also, in both cases, the psuedo-folk tales are not "authentic," but rather represent a literary attempt by latter-day outsiders to re-create the past.In a nutshell, the stories in "Golden Hours" are enjoyable and the language is entertaining, but don't look for depth or profundity. Just be entertained.

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