Bank of the Dragon: The Tale of a Chinatown Banker
The Cosmopolitan Bank of the Far East is a stereotypical financial institution in that profit is at the root of all decisions. And Lazaro Mendoza is the everyman of white collar workers. Mendoza is a Hispanic law school graduate who cheated his way through school, only to find himself clinging to a cushy bank job in Houston’s Chinatown. Despite the surroundings, his inability to speak Cantonese is far less concerning than his inability to speak legalese. As he navigates through this foreign land that should be familiar territory (and likely would have been if he had passed the bar exam), he meets a handful of characters who need his help to escape their own predicaments. They soon come to realize that he can no more help them than help himself.
Armand Gunn has very skillfully created a setting rife with nepotism and profit mongering. Opportunities to do what is right are dismissed as quickly as they arise. This book is maybe a hilarious work of fiction, but the setting and the main character are uncomfortably familiar. Mendoza is a bumbling idiot who has been awarded too much power. He works at an institution that values profits above all else. Gunn’s Chinatown is an obvious mirror image of modern-day Wall Street, right down to the escorts and sports cars.
Gumption is something Gunn has in spades, and Bank of the Dragon: The Tale of a Chinatown Banker shows his fearlessness when in the face of touchy subjects like race, deformities, and gun control. Like JPMorgan Chase when it was doling out subprime loans, Gunn shows no restraint when criticizing corrupt financial institutions. Luckily for him, movements like Occupy Wall Street have shown that Gunn’s disdain is the rule, not the exception.