May 18, 2010

The vagrants by Yiyun Li

Claire Ryan contributed this review of The vagrants, whose author, Yiyun Li, appeared at the AWRF 2010. It's set in provincial China in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.

It's not often that you read a novel that feels polished, truly finished. One definition of art is a creation which holds a mirror to reality, and this book does it so beautifully that the mirror-looking is effective, yet almost painless.

The characters in The vagrants come to life so vividly it's as if they're on film, rather than sketched out in words on the page. It's astounding how one book can capture so much -- about China, her history and people, spirit, fate, hopelessness, mistrust, courage and love in all forms. It leaves you wondering about your own strength. When you ask people who have lived under communist rule: "What was it like under communism?", and they cannot or will not say, this book provides the answers.

Whether you're looking for a political or historical snapshot, a tale of humanity or piece of art, The vagrants will leave you contemplative, sombre but peaceful. Yiyun Li's writing is sublime, delicate and capable of portraying the most powerful, observant images. The vagrants is gentle as a lullaby, yet Li's firm voice streams through.

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 03:30


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