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Head of Zeus
The Message
The Message Mai Jia

A dazzling literary thriller set in Japan-occupied China from the most translated Chinese novelist of our time.

China, 1941.

It is the height of the Second World War, and Japan rules over China. In the famously beautiful city of Hangzhou, a puppet government propped up by the Japanese is waging an underground war against the Communist resistance.

Late one night, under cover of darkness, three men and two women are escorted to an isolated mansion on the shores of West Lake. All five are intelligence officers, employed as codebreakers by the regime. But the secret police are certain that one of them is a communist spy. None of them are leaving until the traitor is unmasked.

It should be a straightforward case of sifting truth from lies. But as each codebreaker spins a story that proves their innocence, events are framed and re-framed, and what really happened is called into question again and again.

Part historical spy thriller, part playful meta-fiction, The Message is a masterclass in storytelling from a Chinese literary sensation.

Praise for Mai Jia:

'Engrossing ... This slyly playful narrative will draw you into a deliciously sticky web' The Times on The Message.
'A page-turner with a gripping plot, otherworldy aura, and flamboyant detail' New York Times on Decoded.
'A literary superstar' Telegraph.
'A mix of spy thriller, historical saga and mathematical puzzle that coheres into a powerful whole' Financial Times on Decoded.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Thrillers
05 Mar 2020 * 432pp * £7.99 * 9781789543001
'This is a spy novel on a grand scale in which nothing is at seems ... This slyly playful narrative makes it clear, all that really matters is the storytelling. Give it a little time and The Message will draw you into a deliciously sticky web'
The Times
'A fascinating play on history, loyalty, logic and coded puzzles and the setting, and point of view, will certainly be unusual to European readers'
Shots Magazine
'In this readably spry translation, Jia's playful mix of tradecraft, puzzle-solving and human folly brings an original twist to the spy fiction canon'
Sunday Times
'War dramas, with their hackneyed plots and cliched characters, are popular in the mainland. The Message, though, uses the war as cover to refer to the horrors of communist rule, particularly but not exclusively from The Cultural Revolution'
South China Morning Post
Mai Jia
Mai Jia
Mai Jia's first novel in English, Decoded, was published by Penguin Classics in 2002, and has been translated into over twenty languages. His novels have sold over 10 million copies and Mai Jia has won the Mao Dun Literature Prize, the highest literary honour in China. The Message was first published in 2007 and has sold over a million copies in China. Mai Jia was born in 1964 and spent many years in the Chinese intelligence services.
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