Death Fugue

Sheng Keyi, trans. from the Chinese by Shelly Bryant. Restless, $20 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-63206-292-5
Chinese writer Sheng (Fields of White) delivers an account of the life of a poet-doctor after a violent protest in his home city of Beiping, Dayang, an allegorical version of Beijing. Two decades after the protest, during one of Yuan Mengliu’s annual searches for Qizi, the love of his life who went missing during the unrest, Mengliu gets caught in a storm on a boat and reaches land in Swan Valley, a foreign and utopian city that’s geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of the world. There, Mengliu becomes a doctor and enters a marriage arranged by the government, an early sign that his new surroundings may be just as repressive as Beiping. The parallels are gradually unfurled with flashbacks to Mengliu’s previous life, and it’s often difficult to follow the shifts in the timeline or make sense of the plot. Sheng’s story evokes the Tiananmen Square massacre and the contemporary Chinese government’s control of day-to-day life in the country, though none of these details are explicitly mentioned, and the allegorical style leaves the characters underdeveloped. Ultimately, this feels flat. Agent: Jérôme Bouchaud, Astier-Pécher Literary & Film Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/14/2021
Release date: 08/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 392 pages - 978-1-922146-65-6
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-922146-64-9
Paperback - 584 pages - 978-1-4596-8689-2
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