Getting Used to Dying

Hsien-Liang Chang, Author, Zhang Xianliang, Author HarperCollins Publishers $19.95 (291p) ISBN 978-0-06-016521-5
Few American novels can approach the power and impact of this extraordinary work, a fictionalized autobiography by the Chinese author of Half of Man Is Woman . A harrowing account of the effects of repressive government on the individual, the novel moves between China and San Francisco, New York and Paris as its protagonist examines his own ``old-fashioned patriotism'' during a trip to the West. Central to the character's psyche are the wounds left by his attempted ``reformation'' by the Communists, a process which at one point involves his being marched to the execution ground--and left alive while those around him are killed, to wait for the rest of his life for the bullet to find him. The scene on the execution ground is unforgettable, its shocking subject filtered through a careful and farseeing irony. Although the level of the writing is generally sophisticated, the prose is occasionally self-conscious or strained--but this failing in no way impinges on the book's greatest accomplishment, its inherent refutation of its own dire assessment of China today: ``A country that cannot produce a nobility of the spirit is a country that is doomed.'' (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
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