EDGAR AWARD FINALIST
for Best First Novel by an American Author
The Washington Post
“[The Map of Lost Memories] has qualities any reader would wish for: adventure, romance, history and a vividly described exotic setting … There is something captivating about this novel. Call it authorial confidence, a sense of place, a splendid Technicolor … The Map of Lost Memories has one beautifully met purpose: It brings Cambodia alive.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Fay’s extraordinary first novel has everything great historical adventure fiction should—strikingly original setting, exhilarating plot twists, and a near-impossible quest ... Every word of this evocative literary expedition feels deliberately chosen, each phrase full of meaning.”
"Fay’s debut novel is a thrilling mix of adventure and personal discovery set in Southeast Asia in the 1920s. At the behest of her manipulative mentor, Henry Simms, unappreciated 29-year-old Irene Blum quits her job at Seattle’s Brooke Museum and heads to Shanghai to persuade scholar-turned-revolutionary Simone Merlin to join her on a quest to locate 10 ancient Khmer scrolls, which discovery would allow Irene to open her own museum and finally get credit for her work and expertise. But when the duo find themselves with blood on their hands, they flee Shanghai and escape to the jungle. As they continue their hunt for the scrolls—pursued by authorities and keepers of Cambodia’s cultural assets—they take on additional team members. Soon, each person’s motives come to light, and secrets from the past begin to surface and threaten the mission. Setting the fraught inner terrain of her characters against the dynamic political and physical landscapes of the area, Fay crafts an intricate page-turner that will keep readers breathless and guessing."
“Fay’s exciting and exotic historical adventure set in the 1920s Far East draws easy comparison to Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. The plot is original, and the characters are smart.”
“Fay has already made a name for herself with award-winning Asian travel writing, and her first foray into fiction is proof both of her expertise in and love for the region. The prose of The Map of Lost Memories is full of lush details, from the elegance of Shanghai to the musty damp of the Cambodian jungle—but more importantly, it’s packed with the kind of drama that many other novels of its kind lack. Thrilling and ambitious, this is a book to get lost in, a book that homes in on the human drama of the quest and never lets go.”
“While the big draw for me was the setting, Shanghai and the Cambodian jungle in 1925, it was the characters that surprised me … The Map of Lost Memories is full of mystery and suspense --- some of it brought on during the course of the discovery of an archaeological gem in the jungle, and at other times complete human folly. I adored the mixture … A setting that’s fascinating, thrilling and dangerous, and characters who are in turn annoying and absorbing with strong personalities: Together these elements made it difficult for me to put this book down. Kim Fay obviously has a love for Asian culture and history. If she decides to write more books with this setting, I’ll be reading.”
Portland Book Review
“Moving vividly through the gorgeous, magical landscapes of Indochina, The Map of Lost Memories is a thrilling historical novel that is written with eloquence and emotional resonance. Fans of historical fiction and exotic locales will find much to love here.”
Historical Novel Society
“We expect a female Indiana Jones and an expedition filled with adventure and excitement, but while there are exciting moments, the focus is more on character, and the whole expedition is more of a journey of self-discovery … An intriguing read that takes different paths to those expected. Recommended.”
In rich and polished prose that belies its status as a first novel, Kim Fay's The Map of Lost Memories pulls the components together in a story that intrigues and rewards.
The Map of Lost Memories is a riveting, personal tale about human emotions, centuries-old buried secrets, along with a race to uncover the scrolls from a legendary ancient civilization of the Khmer. As you travel with Irene Blum and her associates into the beautiful, treacherous land of Southeast Asia, as stunningly told by Ms. Fay, you will feel evocatively immersed in mind and spirit. What a sensational debut novel!
RT Book Reviews
“... intriguing, beautifully written, colorful and multilayered like a lovely tapestry ... begs for a sequel.”
“As personal, political, and cultural histories intertwine, a mesh of hidden motives and uneasy alliances creates a sense of looming disaster … the characters’ emotions and actions are richly imagined.”
The Map of Lost Memories has been also been featured in The Huffington Post (“The Summer of Literary Debutantes”), Reuter’s Book Talk, Fodor’s.com, The Bob Edwards Show and numerous other newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV programs.
ADVANCE PRAISE FROM AUTHORS
“In The Map of Lost Memories, Kim Fay draws us into a universe as exotic, intense and historically-detailed as the ancient artifacts her unforgettable heroine seeks. It's a deliciously unexpected journey: Indiana Jones meets Somerset Maugham meets Marguerite Duras; all culminating in a glorious traipse through a forgotten Asian world. This novel will stay with me for a long, long time.” – Jennifer Cody Epstein, author of The Painter from Shanghai
"The Map of Lost Memories is the best book I have read this year. Exotic, thrilling, and brimming with fascinating historic detail, it had me hooked from page one and sent me to a world I knew existed, but never really understood, never really felt, until now. Kim Fay is a wonderful storyteller who truly masters the art of crafting a riveting story with heart and elegance. The result is utterly mesmerizing." – Anne Fortier, New York Times-bestselling author of Juliet
“Kim Fay writes with such mesmerizing authority that it's hard to believe The Map of Lost Memories is her first novel. Rarely do we find a book that combines gripping adventure with exquisitely crafted prose, but Fay's novel does just that, bringing together the beauty and complexity of Marguerite Duras' The Lover with the thrilling breathlessness of Indiana Jones. The result is breathtaking.” – Dana Sachs, author of If You Lived Here and The House on Dream Street
In The Map of Lost Memories, Fay updates the archaeological adventure tale with an ambitious heroine and a cast of morally ambiguous characters in a race to discover an ancient temple in the jungles of colonial Cambodia. Fay's assured, absorbing prose will compel readers with its lush detail, multiple plot twists and keen insight into this politically combustible period of history. - Aimee Phan, author of The Reeducation of Cherry Truong
"Kim Fay's engaging debut novel, The Map of Lost Memories, not only weaves together a smart, compelling story of a quest for scrolls believed to contain the lost history of Cambodia's ancient Khmer empire, but also gives us a glimpse into 1920's China and Indochina during the time of transition from colonialism to the beginnings of communism. With deftness and clarity, Fay brings her world to life and gives us a captivating read.” – Gail Tsukiyama, author of A Hundred Flowers
“Kim Fay breathes new and original life into the Westerner-in-Asia novel with The Map of Lost Memories, going beyond the intrigues of 1925 Shanghai to the remote reaches of the Cambodian jungle. An enchanting, absorbing first novel, all the more remarkable for its effortless portrayal of a bygone world, now nearly forgotten.” – Nicole Mones, author of Lost in Translation and The Last Chinese Chef