Grace D. Li
Portrait of a Thief

Portrait of a Thief

Five Chinese American college students become justice-driven international art thieves in this Ocean’s Eleven-ish heist novel. When he’s made an offer he can’t refuse, MIT student Will Chen recruits four brilliant accomplices—all with looming midterms—to fulfill an audacious goal: to break into art museums in five countries, in order to steal back artifacts that were once wrongfully stolen from China. If they succeed, they’ll receive a life-changing $50 million payout. The heist storyline pops and fizzes, but Li crams in plenty of substance alongside her flashy plot: an exploration of identity and belonging, crushing familial expectations, desires, love, and calling, plus meaningful LGBTQ representation and the seamless integration of pandemic realities. Word to the wise: This reads more Hollywood than real life but you’ll enjoy the ride. For fans of Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Daniel Silva’s The Cellist.

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