First published anonymously in 1804--its author remains unknown--u003ciu003eMirageu003c/iu003e is set in Guangzhou (Canton), some decades before the city was overwhelmed by the opium trade and the Opium War. Su Jishi, the adolescent son of the head of the Chinese traders' association, the men licensed to deal with foreign merchants in the port, is suddenly burdened with responsibility for his powerful family after his father's unexpected death. More interested in sex than money, Su Jishi learns to navigate between pleasure and commerce, as rebellions erupt just outside the city. u003cpu003eAt the crossroads of two of the greatest Chinese books--the aristocratic coming-of-age novel, u003ciu003eThe Story of the Stoneu003c/iu003e (u003ciu003eThe Dream of the Red Chamberu003c/iu003e) and the military epic u003ciu003eOutlaws of the Marshu003c/iu003e--u003ciu003eMirageu003c/iu003e is panorama of libertines and concubines, lecherous monks and celibate soldiers, corrupt officials and drunken scholars. As entertaining as a bestseller, it is a hectic recreation of vanished mores and customs, and the life of a Chinese city as it was beginning to discover--and deal with--the rest of the world.