Synopses & Reviews
A wholly unexpected, hugely entertaining work from one of the greatest actors of our time: the story of an eccentric early-twentieth-century pirate, on the high seas from the Philippines to Shanghai a larger-than-life character that Brando could have easily inhabited himself.
Anatole Annie Doultry is in his early fifties, with an imposing physical presence and a reputation to match. In 1927, he is serving six months in a hellish Hong Kong prison where, on a whim, he saves the life of a Chinese prisoner.
The prisoner's employer happens to be Madame Lai Choi San. Beautiful, ruthless, and shrewd, she is one of the most notorious gangsters in Asia. When Annie gets out of prison, Madame Lai thanks him with an offer of inconceivable wealth if he will join her in the biggest act of piracy the world has ever seen. Madame Lai is a seductive and powerful ally, but Annie is about to discover that she can be an even more powerful and dangerous enemy.
With his longtime collaborator, screenwriter and director Donald Cammell, Brando worked on this story for years. He's left us with a rollicking, swashbuckling, delectable romp of a novel the last surprise from an ever-surprising legend.
"In 1979, Brando proposed to film director Cammell (Performance) that they collaborate on a China Seas pirate story. Brando improvised scenes and Cammell wrote a 165-page treatment; in 1982, Cammell worked the same material into an incomplete novel. Brando dropped the project, but Cammell's widow revived it after Brando's death, and Knopf's Sonny Mehta hired Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film) to gather the extant materials and finish the book. The stylish result will delight readers who love movies, Marlon Brando, sea stories, Chinese pirates or adventure tales. It's 1927, and 51-year-old Brando-esque sea captain Anatole 'Annie' Doultry is serving a six-month stretch in a Hong Kong prison, during which he saves the life of another prisoner. After finishing his sentence, Annie finds he's gained the gratitude of that prisoner's boss, the beautiful gangster Madame Lai Choi San. Madame Lai, aka Mountain of Wealth, proposes that Annie join her in the highjack robbery of the British-owned SS Chow Fa, which will be carrying a fortune in silver. Annie can't resist either the money or Madam Lai, and soon enough he's up to his gunwales in pirates and plunder. Throw in a typhoon, a double-cross, a scorching sex scene, hand-to-hand combat and a mad break for freedom, and enthralled readers will be swinging from the rigging along with the rest of the pirates in this rollicking high-seas saga. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Fan-Tan is basically a curio, and students of film, lovers of Brando, or those with a hankering for another tale of avarice and deceit on the high seas will want to have a look." Houston Chronicle
"...an exceedingly strange, high-stepping, low-stooping tale that pulses fitfully with talent all of it Cammell's." Washington Post
Brando and his collaborator Cammell create the story of an eccentric early 20th century pirate, a larger-than-life character, who saves the life of a Chinese prisoner. When he's released from jail, the pirate becomes entangled in the biggest act of piracy that part of the world has seen.
About the Author
Marlon Brando appeared in more than forty films, including The Wild One
, A Streetcar Named Desire
, and Apocalypse Now
, and won Academy Awards for his performances in On the Waterfront
and The Godfather
. His autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me
, was published in 1994.
Donald Cammell, writer, actor, producer, and director, was best known for his films Performance, Demon Seed, and Wild Side.