Friday, January 02, 2009

Asia's best books, 2008: WSJ

John Krich compiled the Wall Street Journal's list of Asia's best books of 2008.

One book on the list:
Ma Jian

Since 2008 was the year of Beijing's Olympics -- its coming-out party -- here's another, even more dissident view of the city's reality.

Seven years in the making, this is bitter exile Ma Jian's magnum opus: a brilliant argument for the facts as only fiction can tell. A disembodied mind sifts through memories and ideals where individuality has been reduced to the ultimate form of powerlessness -- along the way, almost incidentally, offering the most insightful depiction of the 1989 Tiananmen Square revolt to come along thus far.

"Beijing Coma" is as telling in its tiniest details of grubby Chinese domesticity and callous family relations as it is sweeping in its metaphor of the country's promising democracy movement reduced, like the quasi-comatose narrator, to a paralyzed, vegetal state.
Read about another book on the Journal's list.

--Marshal Zeringue