Waves: Stories

Pei-Tao, Author, Bei Dao, Author, Bonnie S. McDougall, Translator
Pei-Tao, Author, Bei Dao, Author, Bonnie S. McDougall, Translator New Directions Publishing Corporation $22.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1133-8
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
``Our generation's dream is too painful, and too long; you can never wake up, and even if you do, you'll only find another nightmare waiting for you,'' says a young woman in this collection of six stories and a novella written between 1974 and 1982. The tension between the dead-end despondency the characters see in post-Cultural Revolution China and the passion, hope and anger they express gives Waves its intense vitality. The author, a Beijing resident who is known for his poetry, draws upon an impressive range of literary styles to explore and critique contemporary life under Communism, from the realism of ``The Homecoming Stranger,'' (a father returning after ``exactly twenty years of reform through labor'') to the surrealism of ``13 Happiness Street,'' in which a journalist seeking to learn who lives in a mysterious house is accused as an ``ideological criminal.'' Bei Dao never mitigates the horrors he recounts by pointing to easy solutions or obvious villains, and his evocation of a troubled marriage in ``Melody'' suggests that some of the obstacles to human happiness in China may not be so foreign to Americans after all. (Apr.)
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