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Little Gods: A Novel Hardcover – January 14, 2020
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From the Publisher
"Jin’s richly textured, unsparing writing questions whether a self can exist unmarked by the past." (New Yorker)
"If the mark of a good novel is its ability to delicately rewire the reader’s brain, then Meng Jin has given us a very good novel....Little Gods is a page-turner—but all the while it winks, reminding us that possible explanations in our universe are as varied as the beings who populate it." (The Paris Review, Staff Pick)
"Ambitious [and] formally complex...a powerful, poignant portrait of a woman crippled by her fear of looking back." (Washington Post)
"Steeped in trauma, loss, and imperfect love, Little Gods is a novel about performing the self, filtered through academia, abandonment, and migration.... Smart and emotionally devastating." (NPR.org)
"Reminiscent of Ferrante...are Jin’s protagonist’s larger-than-life talent, drive and perversity. In her intelligence, vulnerability, volatility, desperation, narcissism and self-destructiveness, Su Lan — despite her voicelessness — is as complex a protagonist as any I can recall....Little Gods expands the future of the immigrant novel." (New York Times Book Review )
"Little Gods is built from familiar tropes: love amid violence, lost parents, secrets held by those closest to us. But Jin brings a fresh imagination to them, thoughtfully leveraging the language of physics without making the narrative cold or overladen. Her ultimate principle is simple and effective: How do we preserve love in the face of the forces that threaten it?" (USA Today)
"An intelligent, somewhat restrained look at the effects that tectonic political shifts have on ordinary citizens, effects that reverberate across the decades, and for its young American protagonist, even across oceans." (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Spectacular and emotionally polyphonic…That Jin has managed to craft such an intimate, emotionally complex story is an awesome achievement. That she managed to do it in her debut novel, doubly so.”
(Omar El Akkad, BookPage (starred review))
"Brilliant....Elegantly written, emotionally compelling, and thought provoking on every page.” (The Millions)
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 006293595X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062935953
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.97 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Custom House (January 14, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #226,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Who ARE you…really? Ask that question of anyone who is close to you, and you'll probably get different answers. That's because we are perceived differently by different people. And that is the crux of this debut novel by author Meng Jin.
This is the story of Su Lan as told only through the eyes of her friend and neighbor Zhu Wen, her former husband Li Yongzong, and her angry daughter Liya. And the three points of view couldn't be more different. Su Lan, an extraordinarily gifted physicist, gives birth to Liya in a Beijing hospital on June 4, 1989 amidst the Tiananmen Square massacre. She returns to her home in Shanghai mysteriously without her husband. Two years later, she is on a plane to the United States to start her life over. And when Liya is in her late teens, Su Lan dies. This is where the story really begins as Liya travels to China with Su Lan's ashes in her backpack—a land she doesn't remember—to try to solve the tragic mystery of her mother, a brilliant but soulless woman, who did everything she could to expunge her past and the people in it.
Ah, but the past can't be erased, can it? And it will always haunt us no matter how far or how often we run away or how cleverly we try to bury it. The past is real. It's the future that is only in our imaginations. "Do you believe in time?" asks Su Lan.
The novel's strange structure is a bit cumbersome and awkward at first—the first chapter is titled "The End" and the last chapter is titled "The Beginning"—but it's relatively easy to fall into the unusual rhythm. This book is so laser-focused on the characters that what little there is of a plot is only used to further the ubiquitous themes of time, space, and memory.
Bonus: There are several articulate and quite understandable descriptions of the second law of thermodynamics and the property of entropy. Go ahead! Google it. If you don't have a scientific bent, you'll probably be a bit confused (or totally confused). Then read this book for an understandable explanation.
A bold and insightful journey in discovering about a driven physicist who also faces the realities of motherhood. Not only are we able to unravel Su Lan from the narrator’s perspective but from other significant characters throughout the novel. A balanced and well-structured novel, especially in using multiple voices/ points of views.
A highly appreciated novel.