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Descent [Kindle Edition]

C. H. Zhu
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.95
Kindle Price: $4.99
You Save: $2.96 (37%)
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Book Description

A young doctor from China comes to work in a small town in Maine. Why does he choose to be alone? What is he trying so desperately to escape?

A visit from a former girlfriend and a rendezvous with a stranger bring back the haunting question: Why is he always running away from love?

Back in Shanghai for a family funeral, Dr. Wu once again has to confront the disparity between who he is and who he is expected to be. How far will he and his mother go to protect their family honor?

This novel explores a young man’s struggle with his sexual identity under the immense pressure of a traditional Asian society that stresses family lineage and extols individual sacrifice.

Through the protagonist’s narration of his childhood memories, the book offers a glimpse of an old neighborhood that no longer exists in modern Shanghai. Dr. Wu’s reflection on his parents’ peculiar marriage also sheds light on how political turmoil in China’s recent history distorted ordinary people’s lives.

Take this intriguing journey with Dr. Wu. While his story is often uniquely Chinese, his struggle is common to people of all ages, genders, and cultures: how can we be true to ourselves? When can we all be free to be who we are?

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

C. H. ZHU, born and raised in China, studied writing at New York University and the University of Oregon, and published stories and essays in both English and Chinese.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1668 KB
  • Print Length: 172 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: C.H.Zhu; 2nd edition (April 6, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350,827 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Constructed Work January 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
An accomplished coming-of-age novel that explores the difficulties facing a gay man from a Chinese family. In a society where each family is restricted to a single child, and all hopes of future offspring are vested in that one son or daughter, homosexuality must represent the ultimate curse. The book is beautifully written and assembled, the single point of view strictly adhered to throughout, with whole sections of the text reading like an autobiography. This is where I had my biggest problem with the story, for it moved too slowly and lacked interest for me. I enjoy mysteries and thrillers. This book was no thriller, nor did it harbor any mystery. There was some suspense, but only in the last 3-4 chapters. It might have been better if the catastrophic events near the end of the story were hinted at or foreshadowed early on in order to engage the reader's curiosity.

I spotted remarkably few typos (7 of them). The writing style was clear, literate and refreshing. I recommend the book for its insight into contemporary Chinese culture and the downstream effects of the Cultural Revolution. 4.3 stars.
JJ Toner. From The Kindle Book Review
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4.0 out of 5 stars A sad story May 10, 2014
By Lannie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a sad story, it was well written and the main character I liked very much, but so sad. I would read more stories by this author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Well Written Work April 12, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought this was a very sad but well written and true to life work. This work pertains to the Chinese but it is not unique to them. I think any person seeking their sexual identity may go through something like this, especially in the past and in the Chinese culture where they look after one another generation to generation. I became very attached to Rong and was very sad to see what he had to go through and what his final decision was. Definitely a recommended read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Descent Is a Gem March 11, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
C. H. Zhu's Descent is a gem.

In 2003 Dr. Wu Rong, a Shanghai native in his early thirties working halfway around the world as a pathologist in Augusta, Maine, clearly prefers having sex with men. But he can't refuse to marry a woman and have a traditional family. If he does, he'll utterly destroy the hopes and dreams of his mother.

Although Descent includes its share of other colorful and unique characters, it's all about Dr. Wu and the woman known only as "Rongrong's mother."

Western readers in 2013 might be tempted to dismiss Wu Rong and his wildly controlling mother as throwbacks to an era of homophobia we've come to despise. This would be a mistake. Both Wu and his mother, trapped in the plot of their story against their will, are deeply sympathetic.

The Maoists destroyed the fortune of the Wu family. As she lay dying, Wu Rong's paternal grandmother arranged the marriage of his father (who seems to have been as "abnormal" in his desires as his son) to the impoverished woman from a farming village who'd become her nurse.
Rongrong's mother, speaking of her son, says this to his father: "Everything we do is for him." Wu Rong tells us: "Only through me could she look to the future."

And the writing is consistently lovely. Wu describes the Taiwanese man who seduced him when he was 31 and still a virgin: "He resembled a protagonist in a children's adventure series, a boy wandering through a marginal land, searching, digging, examining, and contemplating."
Wu tells us: "I had always wanted to feel normal. I had always looked normal. Proper, polite, hard-working, and friendly." He wanted something else, too: "To be left alone in this world.
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