Heavy but needed

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This short story collection is an amazing debut focusing on the ways in which China's authoritarianism (and the idea of authoritarianism more generally) permeate and warp people's lives. Most of the characters have to deal with cruelty of some sort and/or the emotional disconnect that can arise when horrible (or tediously mind-numbing) things keep happening. I would not particularly say this is an uplifting collection, and there are content warnings for abusive situations, animal murder, and poisoning, to name just a few, BUT the writing is beautiful and engaging, and the work does provide a compelling critique of living in a modern society. I was hoping for something a bit less bleak (hence the 4 stars instead of 5), but I understand what this book is trying to do (I think), and it seems like it accomplishes it quite well. (Also, the cover is gorgeous.)