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Gambling, eating and drinking way beyond the wildest excesses around Hong Kong

The Ballad of a Small Player - Lawrence Osborne

    Having really liked Osborne's 'The Forgiven' a while ago, I found this book not quite so good. Many similarities with the earlier title in the luxuriousness of the surroundings, and the money, but it's set in the Hong Kong region's gambling areas. But the money...!! I mean this dude we are reading about, he just gambles everything he has for kicks and is somehow 'saved' by some woman and then gambles another pile of money, and drinks, and eats, expensively, and so on and on. And then makes a pile of money with an extremely unlikely run of luck. We learn about the very simple rules of the card game 'Baccarat' - his favoured method of gambling. In the end, I really enjoyed this book (and I understand he has written another book about his drinking exploits in the same part of the world).


I particularly remember a scene featuring a grey Hong Kong, one rainy morning, the view from an expensive restaurant window... as our man, having eaten and drunk to excess, tries to figure out how he can escape paying the bill which is (naturally) way more than the money he has left... All the restaurants are expensive, and, one suspects, somehow 'sterile'. There are some very improbable scenarios here, but the core of the book makes me believe the writer certainly knows the Hong Kong region very well and he has lived some version of this story - but not quite this one.