Ying Chen, Author, Carol Volk, Translator Farrar Straus Giroux $20 (160p) ISBN 978-0-374-17554-2
Nominated for Canada's Governor General's Award and Prix Femina, the third novel (the first to be published in English) by Chinese-Qu becois Chen is a first-person narrative from beyond the grave: the tale of a 25-year-old woman from a family of traditional Chinese immigrants who plans to stage her own death in order to make her mother suffer. The daughter loathes her mother for giving her a life she never wanted, then robbing her of the freedom to live it for herself. ""The day I was born was already the day I was defeated,"" Yan-Zi explains. After tormenting Yan-Zi through her childhood by competing with her for the attention of her aloof, ineffectual father, Yan-Zi's mother tries desperately to find her a husband but rejects the man Yan-Zi falls for. Yan-Zi responds to these tyrannies, petty and large, by being ""faultless,"" outwardly worthy of the mother whom she knows she can never please. What redeems this long J'accuse from adolescent fantasy is Yan-Zi's death (which she had planned with sleeping pills but achieves accidentally by running into the path of a truck), and the peculiar afterlife where she learns that ""You can't turn away from your mother without turning away from yourself.... Fallen leaves return to their roots... traitors to their mothers will continue to be vagabonds, whether dead or alive."" With sure-footed prose and a constant movement toward wisdom, no matter how bitter, Chen restrains her material and lends the work an oddly quiet dignity. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
Show other formats
Paperback - 154 pages - 978-0-520-22013-3
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-1-55365-716-3
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.