Two Lives: Tales of Life, Love & Crime

A Yi, trans. from the Chinese by Alex Woodend. Flame Tree, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-78758-278-1
Repellent characters and situations fill the seven tales in the lamentable inaugural volume of the Stories from China series. In the title story, Zhou Lingtong, who failed his college entrance exams multiple times and whose attempt to become a monk is rejected, takes out his frustration and rage on a “classy woman” by raping her. Shortly after evading arrest, Zhou witnesses two men beating a “horse-faced” woman. With no explanation for a shift in his moral compass, Zhou intervenes, rescuing the victim, who gives him her phone number and tells him to call if he’s ever in need. When he does so, his life is turned around. Yi’s decision to include a revisionist view of his sex crime is off-putting, and nothing in the prose, plot, or characterizations distinguishes this cryptic story of violence and unmerited redemption. The other entries, including one featuring paragraphs of crossed-out text listing language zones and a lengthy laundry list of things to buy, are also likely to result in head-scratching or boredom. Even fans of amoral leads will be unimpressed. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/13/2020
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-78758-276-7
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