Descent Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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
There is also the tension between the boy's own desire to be himself and the mold his mother is cleverly stuffing him into. She, by the way, may be one of the best representations of the Chinese mother in literature, not the perky "Tiger Mom," but the relentless, blinkered (and yet still sympathetic) carrier of tradition. Packed in here is the tension between the young man's emerging sexual orientation and the iron expectation that, once educated and successful, he will find a wife and start a family.
Then there's the tug between America and China. One might suppose that by escaping to Maine and finding a quiet niche as small town pathologist, he could escape, maybe in some way become like the eagle he admires from his apartment window. He might even find room to express his sexuality. But although he does have one intense encounter, in the end, after a horrific incident during a visit home, his mother pulls him back into the cage. But read the book; you'll see how.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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.Published on May 10, 2014 by Lannie
From "Chinese & American Friendship Association of Maine" January--February 2013
C.H Zhu's novel DESCENT presents a compelling narrative about a young Chinese doctor... Read more