Tongueless follows two rival teachers at a secondary school in Hong Kong who are instructed to switch from teaching in Cantonese to Mandarin--or lose their jobs. Apolitical and focusing on surviving and thriving in their professional environment, Wai and Ling each approach the challenge differently. Wai, awkward and unpopular, becomes obsessed with Mandarin learning; Ling, knowing how to please her superiors and colleagues, thinks she can tactfully dodge the Mandarin challenge by deploying her social savviness. Wai eventually crumples under the pressure and dies by suicide, leaving her colleague Ling to face seismic political and cultural change alone as she considers how far she will go to survive such a ruthlessly competitive work environment.
Sharp, darkly humorous, and politically pointed, Tongueless presciently engages with important issues facing Hong Kong today during which so much of the city's uniqueness--especially its language--is at risk of being erased.