It was by preference, and not by necessity, that Sook Yongsheng lived and worked alone. He was not surly by temperament, and in fact did not find it difficult to form friendships, nor to allow those friendships to deepen, once they had been formed; he simply preferred to answer to himself. He disliked all burdens of responsibility, most especially when those responsibilities were expected, or enforced—and friendship, in his experience, nearly always devolved into matters of debt, guilt, and expectation.

– Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (2013)

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