Since the US dollar collapsed in 2011 China has become the leading world power in 2013. All seems well in that vast country; from being near bottom of the 'World Happiness' list China has become No 1 there as well, the people are happy, unaggressive, apparently unworried by the government clamp down on the internet and newspapers, and totally unaware that somehow a month, February 2011, has been entirely wiped from their memories.
This book is presented as fiction, and there is a story there, sometimes quite moving, but the main body of the work is presented as a series of lectures, on China as it is, as it might be, as it possibly should be. The story concerns several people who do remember the missing month; a friend (the narrator) who does not but comes around to their way of thinking, and a high government official they kidnap and who expounds at length on the Government's views and methods and insists there could be no other way to govern China. There is little in this story about the outside world and there is a whiff of claustrophia about it.
Somehow this works, for me anyway. I was never tempted to give up on it, though it was hard going at times. I came away from the book with, I hope, more understanding of China and Chinese thinking than I had previously.
The question is: Is it better to live in a good (actual) hell or in a fake paradise? A question not answered here, maybe, but how could it be?
A strange book, but certainly very interesting and I'm glad I've read it.