Amazon Best of the Month, May 2008: Like a latter-day Rip Van Winkle, a troubled young man slumbers away for ten years. While he slowly retraces the experiences that brought him into this dream state, the world around him morphs into a nearly unrecognizable place. The place is not a mountain fairyland in pre-Revolutionary America, but China at the turn of the twenty-first century. And, our story's hero is not a beleaguered farmer seeking solace among the mountains and rivers, but a promising graduate student named Dai Wei who was shot in the head during the pro-democracy protests in 1989 at Tiananmen Square. Beijing Coma is an unexpectedly visceral and daring work of fiction by critically acclaimed author Ma Jian that explores why a promising young student would risk it all in the spring of 1989. In this ingeniously constructed novel--which sets Dai Wei's internal recollections against the contemporary changes occurring beyond him--Ma Jian reveals the profound personal consequences of that historic struggle for freedom--long after the CNN cameras stopped rolling. --Lauren Nemroff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The outcome of this bleak, wrenching generational saga from Ma Jian (Stick Out Your Tongue and The Noodle Maker) is known from early on: the politicization of Dai Wei, a diligent molecular biology Ph.D. student at Beijing University, ends in Tiananmen Square with a bullet striking him in the head. As the book opens, Dai Wei is just waking from a coma that has continued over 10 years following the June 4, 1989, massacre—still apparently unconscious, but actually aware of his surroundings. The narrative then alternates between Dai Wei's very conscious observations as a nonresponsive ''vegetable'' over the years of his coma, and his childhood and student life. Ma Jian evokes the horrors of an oppressive regime in minute, gruesome detail, particularly in quotidian scenes of his mother's attempts to care for Dai Wei, which eventually lead her to a member of the banned Falun Gong movement. The book's behind-the-scenes portrayal of the nascent student movement hinges on repetitious ideological bickering and sexual power plays. Lengthy expositions of Dai Wei's condition slow the book further, but Ma Jian achieves startling effects through Dai Wei's dispassionate narration, making one man's felled body a symbol of lost possibility. (June)
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This is probably an okay story but I found it to be boring to finish.Published 3 months ago by Richard Ryan
An interesting and enlightening read. Sometimes a challenge to continue through the almost hour by hour description of events, but appreciated the very creative approach with... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Carol Pettit
This novel presents the history of modern China in grim detail, especially through the horrors suffered by the narrator's family. Read morePublished 17 months ago by John Hagopian
It tells an entertaining and pretty unbelievable story. My wife, who is from Mainland China, tells me that the stories told about in the book, as disgusting as they might be, are... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Special Ed
First, Beijing Coma is not his best work. I would read The Dark Road or his books about travel in Tibet before delving into this. It is overly long and not well edited. Read morePublished 21 months ago by JD
The excrutiating detail in this book became too much for me to handle. The message about suppression and life in modern China was lost as I read yet another description of who... Read morePublished on August 7, 2012 by patreadsalot
After being hit by a soldiers bullet in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, PhD student Dai Wei falls into a coma only to awaken ten years later in what is a very different China. Read morePublished on May 7, 2010 by Tom Keoughan
Although the historical element is fascinating, and chilling, the book moves at an extremely slow pace. Read morePublished on April 28, 2010 by Wayne