Because of my longtime interest in China, it history and its people, as well as its alluring mysteries, I've also been drawn to its literature, both classical and modern. The variety is as rich as all the manifestations of things Chinese.
A new novel from Xiaolu Guo brings together the UFO and the potent force of change. The book is structually and stylistically engaging. It is deceptively simple in its telling but potent in its resonances with the realities of China.
The book's jacket description reveals:
"Silver Hill Village, 2012. On the twentieth day of the seventh moon - the day after National Wiping Out Illiteracy Day - Kwok Yun is making her way across the rice fields on her Flying Pigeon bicycle. Her world is upturned when she sights a UFThing - a spinning plate in the sky - and helps a Westerner in distress whom she discovers in the shadow of the alien craft.
"It's not long before the village is crawling with men from the National Security and Intelligence Agency armed with pointed questions. And when the Westerner that Kwok Yun saved repays her kindness with a large dollar cheque she becomes a local celebrity, albeit under constant surveillance."
The agents' interrogation files provide the story's structure which reveals a "startling parable of change" that imagines "an uneasy future for rural China and its relations not only with Beijing but the wider world beyond.
From the book:
'Have you heard of UFOs?' she asked.
'UFwhat? We had no idea what she was talking about.
'UFOs. Unidentified Flying Objects.'
Yun just stared at her with those big, stupid eyes of hers. Then Chief Chang continued:
'It is thought by some that UFOs carry alien life forms.'