Thursday, May 03, 2018

What is R. F. Kuang reading?

Featured at Writers Read: R. F. Kuang, author of The Poppy War: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I like to be reading one nonfiction book and one fiction book at all times–more than that gets me distracted and makes it hard for me to pick up threads, but I need the fiction/non-fiction split to keep all parts of my brain active.

Nonfiction-wise, I’m currently reading Sam Quinones’ Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, which is a very careful researched and well told expose on addiction to painkillers, the OxyContin crisis, and the distribution of black tar heroin from Mexico across the United States. Quinones is writing journalistically but has the dramatic flair of a novelist, which...[read on]
About R. F. Kuang, from the publisher:
A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away...

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity ... and that it may already be too late.
Visit R. F. Kuang's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Poppy War.

Writers Read: R. F. Kuang.

--Marshal Zeringue