Extract from the book "Five Star Billionaire" by Tash Aw

The following week his cough seemed to get worse; the long walk in the damp January air seemed to have weakened his lungs and he found the mere act of breathing an effort. In a meeting with potential bankers he was unable to finish his sentences because of a tickling in his throat that rose as he spoke, swiftly triggering a rasping cough that left his chest and ribcage feeling hollow and achy. The doctor prescribed another course of antibiotics – his third since the New Year – and ordered some X-rays, which came back clear. He just needed rest, the doctor said; he was run-down. But his days and nights did not get any shorter – the gruelling meetings lasted all day, bleeding into the evening’s social round of banquets and bars. Once he got over the initial few days of feeling ill, the exhaustion became familiar, almost reassuring. It was always like this: whenever a big project was on the table he would slip easily into the grinding nature of his routine, finding comfort in the constancy of his fatigue. When he woke up each morning he could feel the puffiness of his eyes, knew that they would be bloodshot; his breathing would already be desperate, the air feeling thin in his lungs. His limbs would be heavy, but after a shower and a double espresso he would feel better, though he would never satisfactorily shake the mild headache that was already descending on his skull, already escalating into a migraine.

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