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A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on some of the books I read. To read about all the books I read and comment on, visit me at LibraryThing or Goodreads.

I've been blogging since 2007 and at this point (July 2015) am trying my hand at turning the theme of this blog towards mystery, thriller, and crime, fiction and nonfiction. I have some special interest topics and categories within this broad genre which include (but are not limited to) serial killers, scandi-crime, Victorian history and historicals, history of the criminally insane and asylums, psychopathology, death, funerary practices and burial, corpses, true crime and anything dealing with the real life macabre, or that portrayed in fiction.

I also read a short story a day from various collections, sometimes anthologies othertimes collections of a single author's work. These reviews are also posted here and while they are of mixed genre the mystery, thriller, horror, gothic and macabre often appear within their pages as well.


I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

49. The Vagrants


The Vagrants by Yiyun Li

Pages: 337
Finished: Mar. 4, 2009
First Published: Feb. 3, 2009
Genre: literary fiction, historical fiction
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: I received a review copy for the publisher, Random House Canada.

First sentence:

The day started before sunrise, on March 21, 1979, when Teacher Gu woke up and found his wife sobbing quietly into her blanket.

Comments: This book is a story of ordinary Chinese citizens in 1979, China. A year in which people are still getting used to the Communist regime after the break-up of the Cultural Revolution. Those who were staunch Red Guards during the rule Mao have been take care of and anyone still harbouring those or any feelings other than communism are antirevolutionists. The book opens upon the day that the Gu's daughter, Shan, now 28 after spending 10 years in prison for her actions during the rule of Mao is to be executed for her writings found in her diary in her cell.

The story is mostly one of the characters who knew Gu Shan, those affected by either her life or her death, and those who live upon her street. It is a story of the horrors of political indoctrination, crimes against the people, ordinary people trying to live their lives, and of love. Love, both gone sour from years of hardship and burning romance between two very unlikely people.

What a beautiful book! Very well written, continuously moving from one character's experiences to an other's. A slow-paced plot, the book encompasses only one year, but
a moving look into the minds of various Chinese mindsets from traditional superstition to staunch communist to fierce activists. I loved every one of the eclectic characters but especially Nini and Bashi, two young people who slowly become more and more the main focus as the book progresses.

I love reading about China and this brief period of the seventies is one that, historically, I haven't read of before. I found it fascinating as well as tragic and heart-wrenching. While slow-paced as mentioned above, it is not a slow read and I found myself turning pages as fast as I could. By no means a happy story but a dark and heart-rending one with glimpses of hope.

This is the author's first novel, having previously published an award winning collection of short stories, and I most certainly will be keeping an eye out for her next one. Highly recommended especially to those who enjoy character driven novels.

3 comments:

  1. I had this one home from the library but never got to read it. I'll have to request at a later date. Great Review.

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  2. Wonderful Nicola! This books sounds great! I added it to my TBR.

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  3. A beautiful book, indeed, hope you both enjoy it.

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