Adventures of the Karaoke King | a novel

Cover for Adventures of the Karaoke KingAdventures of the Karaoke King is a karaoke grail quest about transplanted people from around the globe who keep falling just short of their dreams.

Seattle’s Guy Watanabe is a quiet thirty-something man who is marginally in touch with his Asian heritage and completely out of touch with his own needs and desires. Recovering from a divorce, Watanabe is unsure of himself and his future. When he wins a local karaoke contest, he discovers not only a newfound confidence, but the courage to take risks. With the victor's medallion in hand, he seizes the moment, and his life changes dramatically…although not as he might have hoped. From a weekend romp with Megumi, a former hooker, comes a physical beating and the loss of his beloved medallion. Stung by this humiliation, yet able to muster a courage long dormant, he begins his quest. From the Pacific Northwest, down to the Southwest, and on to Asia, with a return trip in a shipping container, Guy Watanabe is on a wild ride. Along the way he woos a hard-drinking Korean barmaid, teams up with a closeted gay man and a heavily-armed dwarf, and crosses paths with a patricidal Chinese businessman who will stop at nothing to create a global karaoke empire. So many people seeking the meaning of life and desperate to attain their dreams, and at the heart of their internal struggle is Guy Watanabe's quest for truth, hope, and self-discovery.

Praise for Adventures of the Karaoke King

"[T]he author...offer[s] telling commentary on various facets of modern American culture. Chief among the targets of his poison pen are consumerism, the tawdry accoutrements of tourist stops in the Southwest, corporate destruction of unique establishments in a quest to MacDonald’s-ize commercial success, self-help gurus and the insanity of the justice system that demonizes immigrants.... As Harold Taw offers an imaginative and engrossing tale, he asks an intriguing question: 'Is it possible to leave behind who you are for what you might become? That’s the promise of America.'"

Kathleen Daley, The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), May 30, 2011


“Reading ADVENTURES OF THE KARAOKE KING causes Adrian Tomine and The Dude Lebowski to wander into the same area of one's brain. Even as my head was exploding, I couldn't put down Harold Taw’s hilarious and heartbreaking page-turner. I said to no one in particular: ‘I'm ready to follow Guy Watanabe anywhere.’ Guy Watanabe took that literally, and off we went.”

Anya Ulinich, author of Petropolis


“ADVENTURES OF THE KARAOKE KING defines a new literary oeuvre shaped by America’s ethnically confused melting pot. It is a marvel of cunning humor, horrific atrocities, and heart-rending whimsy, and more than a pastiche of American naiveté, brutal racism, and cheeky sex, proving that first-time novelist Harold Taw is today’s Mark Twain and contemporary literature’s King of Sly.”

Skye Moody, author of The Good Diamond


“ADVENTURES OF THE KARAOKE KING is the book I’ve been waiting to read — funny, original, and smart as hell. Harold Taw has created a new genre of 'global noir' — an international odyssey tale replete with provocative characters, detention centers, and an eye-opening ocean ride. Traveling from Seattle to Shanghai, small town bars to Karaoke conglomerates, Taw brings a sparkling consciousness to the page and an exciting new voice to American fiction. A stellar debut.”

Susan Rich, author of The Alchemist’s Kitchen

"Taw’s keen ear for dialogue and catalog of sharply drawn characters—including a misanthropic ex-porn-star dwarf, feral five-year-old, and Thai former prostitute with a tragic past and a Machiavellian spirit—keep the pages turning."

Booklist, March 15, 2011

... And Condemnation

"I have to say this may be the bleakest, grimmest book I've read in a very long time... I was left in the grip of an overwhelming sense that perhaps this is indeed all there is to life in America... [I]t left me with a sense of unease that took a long time to wear off. Disturbing, is how I guess I would rate my overall opinion of this book."

— Customer Review