cover image Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch

Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch

Dai Sijie, , read by B.D. Wong. . Random House Audio, $34.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7393-2054-9

Wong's mellifluous, theatrical voice sets the stage for this novel of Muo, a French-trained psychoanalyst who returns to his native China in search of his lost love. Finding her imprisoned by Communist fiat, Muo discovers that the only way to free her is to bring a tyrannical local judge a virgin for his delectation. Sijie's comic-romantic quest becomes a travelogue of the new China, taking in a panoply of voices, a ceaselessly chattering orchestra playing the song of life in the proto-capitalist era. Wong chooses to perform the book as an extended series of monologues, bending and playing with each word like a separate, discretely wrapped treat. Some get whispered silkily, others intoned fitfully, others yet provided with a series of intricately nuanced voices. The book becomes an opportunity for Wong to luxuriate in the sound of Sijie's words and in his own voice. Wong makes his own performance the centerpiece of his reading, and his audacious willingness to place himself at the forefront is a gamble that pays off handsomely, providing a holistic unity that elevates this audiobook over the run of its peers. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover. (July)