If UNDER FISHBONE CLOUDS doesnâ€™t attain the high readership it deserves, there is no justice. Itâ€™s quite simply one of the most lavishly imagined, masterfully researched, exquisitely written contemporary novels Iâ€™ve read. And if that sounds as if Iâ€™m gushingâ€¦well, itâ€™s probably because I am.
December 7, 2010
Â· Judi Clark Â· One Comment
Tags: Chinese, Communism, love, lyrical, Magical Realism, Myth, Real Event Fiction, Real People Fiction Â· Posted in: 2010 Favorites, China, Facing History, Family Matters, World Lit
THREE SISTERS by Bi Feiyu is a tragicomic novel, a tongue-in-cheek parody, about three sisters in the Wang family living in Wang Family Village in rural China: â€śMany rural villages are populated mainly by families with the same surname.â€ť The novel opens in 1971 and ends in 1982. It is structured like three novellas though it is described by the publisher as a novel. The bookâ€™s strength, and also its weakness, is that it is primarily comprised of character studies without a lot of plot. This can make it less accessible to some readers. Throughout the novel, the author utilizes Chinese proverbs, aphorisms and adages to make points. It comes out sounding something like a Greek chorus, adding a comic element to what is often heart-rending or calamitous.
Hessler came to China in 1996 with the Peace Corp and stayed for 10 years. He got his license in 2001, as roads and drivers were proliferating, and planned a cross-country trip. Development was intense in coastal regions but the north and west were still remote, many roads unlabeled.
In FACTORY GIRLS, American journalist Chang, who kept her Chinese heritage at armâ€™s length for many years, explores her familyâ€™s past and the countryâ€™s history as she follows the lives of migrant workers in the industrial city of Dongguan, where 70 percent of the population is female.
Henning Mankell’s THE MAN FROM BEIJING, ably translated by Laurie Thompson, opens in January 2006. It is eerily quiet in the northern Swedish hamlet of HesjĂ¶vallen. No smoke rises from the chimneys and not a soul stirs. A photographer studying deserted villages in Sweden arrives and knocks on doors, but no one answers. Fearing that something is wrong, he breaks into one of the houses…
If one is asked to summarize BROTHERS, most likely the answer would be something like this: Two brothers lose each other as each tries in his own way to cope with massive change, first cultural and then economic. One gains immense wealth, the other loses hope…and his life. Yet, despite it all, their bond remains.