This book is a series of short stories, all reflections of lives of those who live in China. The scope of the stories is really broad, and I really enjoyed learning a little more about the culture, customs and personalities of China’s everyday people. I am not usually one to choose, or attempt to read, short stories. However, I had the chance to read this in an ARC copy, and jumped at the chance. China has always been of interest to me, and this was a chance to learn just a little bit more about it.
The first story tells of a set of brother/sister twins, who takes very different paths in life. The brother follows the rules, goes to college, and although he is not as brilliant as his sister academically, he makes a career and a life for himself. He gets very into video gaming, and makes a name for himself there, as well as growing up. His sister, highly intelligent and gifted, becomes jaded to the life she has to lead in China, and at her prestigious Beijing university, joins protests against the government. She then begins to write anonymously for a website she creates, aimed at criticizing the government. The story told is just beautiful, and gives you a taste of some of the oppression that the Chinese people have gone through, even recently.
The stories range in scope, and are all about 20–30 pages long. Easily short enough to read in one sitting, even if you don’t have much time to read. They range from the story described above, to one about an old man who builds his own airplane, one about a man who gets into trouble with the stock market and investing, and one about a Chinese man who settles in America, marries and American woman, but never talks about his past in China. When he completes suicide, his wife goes to his village in China, to meet his parents and try to learn more about his story (to gain her own closure).
As I said, all the stories are beautiful, and give us a glimpse into Chinese culture in digestible little bits. The writing style is interesting and flowy, but easy to read as well. The short stories hook you right in, and tell you enough that you don’t feel like you were left wanting more. For someone that is not usually drawn to short stories, I flew through these quickly and was not disappointed.
I would highly recommend this book of short stories, especially if you are drawn to Chinese culture, or just enjoy short stories.