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Something a little different, a little strange in places and a rollercoaster ride through China's recent history. I liked this book a lot for exposing me to another culture, in a bizarre and unique way, for being irreverent and bold and for melding that perfectly with a moving and emotional story. I like stories like The Joy Luck Club or Memoirs of a Geisha but sometimes find they take themselves a bit too seriously and I desire something spunkier but that still deals with cultural, historical and even tragic events. This book hit it just right. The book uses the story of two loyal and dedicated brothers (despite frequent rifts and betrayals) to personify the rapid cultural changes in China. If this kind of story interests you and as long as you aren't offended by strong language you'll enjoy this book.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
If you enjoyed Gunter Grass's "The Tin Drum" and Salman Rushdie's "Midnight Children," you'll like this novel.
The NY Times review too harshly criticizes the translators' inability to capture the nuances of the many Chinese aphorisms. The same criticism could be made of every translation. But this defect doesn't diminish the overall tone and power of the book. If anything, it reminds the reader he is dealing with a different culture.
The story sketches a post-modern/magical realism bildungsroman of two Chinese half-brothers from the crushing poverty of The Cultural Revolution to the hyper-materialism of present China.
For me, the most compelling part of the book was the cruelty visited on the brothers' father by the Red Guard.
There is also a love story involving a beautiful village girl for whom the brothers competed. But I won't spoil; you'll have to listen yourself.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful