Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Vagrants by Yiyun Li

That dark period, running roughly from 1966 to Mao's death in 1976, is fast becoming the Chinese literary equivalent of the Holocaust, a source for reflection on China's cultural mores, the power of one man and his misshapen ideas, and the brutal potential of conformity and mass behavior. This novel centers on the 1979 execution of a Chinese counterrevolutionary in the provincial town of Muddy River and spirals outward into a scathing indictment of Communist China. It is hard to believe that it was only a scant 30 years ago that this occurred. 

This book opens up with a scene of her parents waking up to know that this is the day that their daughter will die.  While Shan's parents are bereft, others celebrate her execution. 

I really thought I was going to enjoy this book but, then it started meandering to include so many different story lines that I just couldn't stay with it.  It jumps around and includes so many characters that I didn't care about.  I wish she would have stayed with the original story line of the parents and built it from there.

Rating: 1 Do not recommend