Red Ivy, Green Earth Mother

AI Bei, Author, Howard Goldblatt, Translator, Bei AI, Author Peregrine Smith Books $10.95 (146p) ISBN 978-0-87905-292-8
Three stories and a novella are the first of this writer's works to be translated into English and offer a good introduction to a startling new voice. Ai Bei's female protagonists come from all ranks of contemporary Chinese society--intellectuals, prison guards, latrine cleaners--but each strives equally hard to define herself, both to herself and to the people around her. To capture the complexities of a milieu in which people mouth modern sexual platitudes but act according to old ones, Ai Bei slips back and forth between realism, stream-of-consciousness and a kind of hallucinatory superrealism. In ``Bala's Dream,'' a city woman in search of a ``purer'' culture is led up a mountain by a scornful travel guide and narrowly escapes rape in a village mating ritual. In the novella, ``Red Ivy,''do not change this to title novella/another story is green earth mother/pk a prominent Party member's niece finds employment in a women's prison; life there is vicious yet not as alienating as on the outside, where women work next to men but bow to their double standards. Ai Bei's stories are not about blame or the lack of it; her characters, female and male, are trying to pick their way through a cultural landscape changing so fast that it's different every time they look at it. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 164 pages - 978-0-595-00674-8
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