Shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’ by Madeleine Thien is a multi-generational saga of two families set against the backdrop of key events in 20th century Chinese history, from the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution to the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. In Vancouver in the early 1990s, Chinese refugee Ai-ming comes to stay with Marie whose father Jiang Kai committed suicide in 1989 when she was ten years old. Kai, a talented concert pianist, knew Ai-ming’s father Sparrow, an equally gifted composer, when they studied music in the 1960s at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music with Sparrow’s cousin Zhuli, a violin prodigy. Through fragments from a series of notebooks and diaries, Marie searches for answers about her father and his life in China during a turbulent period of the country’s history. Continue reading
Tag Archives: China
Translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas, ‘The Four Books’ by Yan Lianke is set in a labour camp in the ninety-ninth district near the Yellow River in north China where the Theologian, the Scholar, the Musician, the Author and other disgraced intellectuals are tasked with growing crops and smelting steel as part of their political “re-education”. The camp is led by a juvenile commander known as the Child who is also seeking approval from the “higher ups” in the party. However, as the economy fails and famine sets in, the inmates are left to survive on their own in appalling conditions. Continue reading
After reading The Shore by Sara Taylor and The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson earlier this month, I’ve been reading the other two books shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. They are ‘The Year of the Runaways’ by Sunjeev Sahota and this year’s winner ‘Loop of Jade’ by Sarah Howe.
Set in small town Ohio in 1977, ‘Everything I Never Told You’ by Celeste Ng tells the story of sixteen year old Lydia Lee who is found dead at the bottom of a nearby lake in a suspected suicide. Her Chinese-American father James and her Caucasian mother Marilyn are completely distraught as are her older brother Nathan and her younger sister Hannah. However, one of them may know more than they are letting on about what really happened to Lydia before she died. Continue reading
There is a wide range of Japanese fiction available in English thanks to the popularity of authors such as Haruki Murakami, Shuichi Yoshida, Hiromi Kawakami and many more. However, contemporary Chinese fiction translated into English is somewhat less prominent, so I was pretty surprised to come across a brand new copy of ‘Decoded’ by Mai Jia in a National Trust secondhand bookshop recently. Continue reading