Brocade Valley

Brocade Valley

by Wang Anyi, Wang Anyi
     
 
One of the trilogy of novellas addressing the theme of women in extramarital affairs, this story shocked China when it appeared in 1987, becoming a bestseller and effectively dynamiting the sexual puritanism of official Chinese writings.

Overview

One of the trilogy of novellas addressing the theme of women in extramarital affairs, this story shocked China when it appeared in 1987, becoming a bestseller and effectively dynamiting the sexual puritanism of official Chinese writings.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The last in the author's trio of novellas about passion, this tale of an adulterous affair promises drama that it never delivers, although the adeptly translated prose at times conveys visual sparkle, humor and even a few passing psychological insights. In still-puritanical China, Wang ( Bao Town ) may have won acclaim simply for daring to allow the work's protagonist, an editor who falls in love with a writer during a publishing conference, to return to her husband and job without suffering any adverse effects. Wang makes it difficult to care about her unnamed characters, however, by stripping them of personal history and keeping all their emotions implicit: she describes the writer merely as ``the one without glasses''; the lovers' ``most meaningful and comprehensive conversation'' involves only the exchange of the word ``okay''; and the most intense scene concerns the lighting of a match. Readers aren't allowed to see the ``infinite powers of imagination and creativity'' that the woman's affair supposedly stirs up in her, and the narrator's comments seem intrusive rather than enlightening. A final remark proves perhaps more apt than Wang intended: ``I have to release the heroine, and let her walk away without a story.'' ( Nov. )
Donna Seaman
Wang Anyi's short, intense novel is well introduced by translator McDougall, who makes sure we understand its social context. A story of extramarital passion, it is filtered through the mind of a book editor who lives with her husband in one cramped room in a badly lit, shabby apartment building in a large, noisy Chinese city. The close quarters and enforced intimacy have drained their marriage of any sexuality, turning the wife into an angry, nagging bore, the husband into a robot. She gets a sudden reprieve when her boss sends her off to a writer's conference in Lushan, a resort area of great natural beauty. The young, beautiful editor and a famous writer become infatuated with each other over 10 blissful yet anguish-filled days and nights. Their mutual obsession is echoed in the spectacular mountain landscape where the hot, pressing sun gives way at evening to shrouding, entangling mists. The woman is transformed, newly aware of her femininity, full of hope and confidence. Anyi's extraordinary attention to emotional nuance and physical detail creates tremendous psychological suspense. An atmospheric, haunting work of poignant control, subtlety, and insight, this is unusually frank and sensual for sanctioned Chinese literature. Anyi is also the author of "Baotown".

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811212243
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
11/01/1992
Pages:
123
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.69(d)

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