This ambitious novel was inspired by the 16th century Chinese epic The Journey to the West, about the antics of a monkey traveling in India. Vizenor (The People Named Chippewa) places his Native American counterpart of the mythological monkey in modern China. Disguised as a professor, Griever de Hocus shifts back and forth between fantasy and reality, teaching a class one minute and conversing with chickens in the marketplace the next. Most of his exploits involve liberating animals or chasing women, and the narrative is hard to follow, not so much because of its imaginative nature as its prose, which is bloated with extraneous detail that doesn't give much of a flavor of China. In fact, Vizenor, who spent several months teaching in Tianjin, tells us little we don't already know. (His satire consists mainly of jokes about the bureaucracy and bad food, and a macabre scene involving infanticide.) One wishes his insights were more penetrating. (October)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987 Release date: 01/01/1987 Genre:
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.