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I Am China Hardcover – 5 Jun 2014
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|Hardcover, 5 Jun 2014||
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"Heart-wrenching… An extraordinary and important book" (Charlie Cooper Independent)
"Beautifully written… Genuinely affecting… Exceptional" (Scotland on Sunday)
"An ambitious, thought-provoking and engaging narrative" (Jane Shilling Evening Standard)
"Beautifully rendered" (New York Times)
"Beautifully done" (Viv Groskop Red)
Two lovers, separated by oceans and an oppressive political regime, desperate to find their way back to each other.See all Product description
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The book is an authentic narrative of the bond between two young people and their life together that is fractured in ways partly created by themselves, but also by the uncompromising harshness of life and living. Their growing apart happens gradually as certain tragedies occur. The story reveals itself slowly as their diaries and letters are translated, in a way that keeps your attention and draws you further into what feels like a living connection with the two main characters. There are passages in the book which will stop you in your tracks, where a mood is captured so vividly that it is like looking at a painting or photograph, which in turn then opens up into deep insights into the inner world of the characters. If you have any interest in China you will find the various levels of this story fascinating and revealing. As the book progresses into the second half of the story you begin to realise that you are reading an exceptional novel.
I found that the character of the translator Iona was not as easy to grasp or connect with, and fortunately this did not affect the overall experience of the story. Her life was lived in sharp and bleak contrast to that of Mu and Jian, and in hindsight appears to have been a deliberate attempt by the author to allow a very clear stage on which the other characters of Jian and Mu could be portrayed. I could not find any subliminal links between the two "worlds" in which the story evolves; perhaps others could, but to me they felt like two very separate stories. That said Guo's capacity to reveal the coldness and emptiness of Iona's life was very good, and towards the end of the book some revealing passages did help us to understand her a little better. This is a very good book and well worth reading. I will read more of her books.