Book Reviews & Essays on Literature

Binu and the Great Wall, by Su Tong

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Binu and the great wallSu Tong is the writer of the immensely depressing novel Rice, which is about poor Chinese people who make each other even more tormented than they already are, and ends more wretchedly than it begins. This novel (translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt) has much the same effect on the reader, but not only due to the unsympathetic characters and unsettling plot. The text of the bleak and puzzling novel is made difficult to digest by odd use of tone. This novel is as much about the habits, beliefs, geography and peoples of ancient china as Binu’s travails. The subtext of the novel is in effect a description of a Taoist life, characterized strongly by Chinese fatalism. (Continue reading…)

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