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  • Su Tong writes beautiful, dangerous prose

    Meg Wolitzer
  • What I admire most is Su Tong's style...His strokes are restrained but merciless. He is a true literary talent

    Anchee Min
  • Powerful and elegant ...the world he so vividly depicts has the timelessness of a classical Chinese court painting

  • There is something soothing and insistent about the sound and feel of Su Tong's writing.Chinese customs and characters make the mood strange and different....Language, its feel and construction, flows like the river into the reader's imagination... [More] twists, turns and tragedies hold the reader's attention right to the end. The writing is superb, the word pictures of the river and its people memorable. And Yes, it could make great cinema

    Sunday Express
  • The major achievement of this novel is Su Tong's decision to forgo his strength as a prose stylist and settle for a familiar story told in a familiar language. Despite the tendency of the younger generation to dismiss the cultural revolution as a bygone era, this recent past, with its cruelties and absurdities, still lives in the nation's memory.
    At his best, Su Tong is able to catch the tragedy and comedy of that time, using a highly political language: when the birthmark on Ku Wenxue's bottom disqualifies him as the martyr's son, the whole town goes through a craze of examining one another's bottoms in the toilets of municipal baths, while Dongliang, our private and sensitive narrator, reports, "I tightened my belt and heightened my vigilance," - a line that playfully combines two slogans from Mao's era.
    Dialogues filled with political clichés of the time are the highlight of the novel. In an extremely poignant exchange - both tragic and absurd - towards the end of the novel, the narrator, in order to steal the martyr's memorial stone, has a long argument with the town's idiot, who has for decades considered himself to be the real son of the martyr.


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