From Publishers Weekly
"The only difference between feudal times and our own is that back then `bad women' were seen as amoral fox spirits, whereas now they are labeled corrupt bourgeois," muses bad girl Lili Lin, in the wake of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The antiheroine of this debut English-language novel by Chinese-American writer Wang struggles through life in Communist China, finding her way toward the tragedy of Tiananmen Square. Busted for "hooliganism" in her early 20s, Lili is sentenced to three months of rehabilitation through labor. Returning home to her music teaching parents, who teeter on the edge of official disgrace, she has a hard time finding work and enjoys confusing the "Confucians" to whom she is a "fox spirit." Lili decides to embrace unemployment as a Taoist "Great Void" spiritual experience, but the direction of her life changes when she meets Roy Goldstein, an American journalist and friend of her childhood friend Yuan. Through Roy's appreciation of classical Chinese culture, Lili experiences a reawakening of faith in her heritage, while remaining clear-sighted about the present political horrors. In a schizophrenic social atmosphere in which she is at once an emerging cosmopolitan artist and the concubine of a white devil, she arrives, along with others, to witness the revolt of students in Tiananmen in Beijing. Like Thornton Wilder in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Wang develops an engaging novel of fate exploring what draws an individual toward large happenings on a social stage. Her version, set in a China at once convincing and utterly foreign, both attracts and terrifies. (June)Forecast: Wang was a prodigy in China, beginning her career as writer and radio host in her teens. She now works for the Washington Post in Beijing; this is her first book in English, and she will embark on a five-city author tour. Her background and her sharp, unsparing perspective should attract attention and translate into solid sales.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
A published author in China and an affiliate with the Washington Post's Beijing bureau, Wang presents her first work in English, a political, historical, and lightly romantic novel. Set in China just prior to the Tiananmen uprising, the book introduces 24-year-old Lili Lin, just released from prison after being sentenced for hooliganism. Unable to find steady employment, she accepts a friend's offer to work as a musician and plays the erhu for foreign tourists while on a trip to inner Mongolia. While there, Lili meets and falls in love with U.S. journalist Roy Goldstein, eventually moving in with him and risking possible imprisonment for illegal cohabitation. Told in the first person, this multilayered work reveals the inequities that result from class differences, gender differences, political affiliation, and poverty in China. Like author Hong Ying (Daughter of the River, LJ 1/99), Wang brings a woman's perspective to her storytelling, as she describes the oppression of free-spirited and free-thinking women in China. Wang's writing is clear, full of imagery, and easy to follow; recommended for most general fiction collections and especially for Asian fiction collections.- Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.