Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Review: The Vagrants by Yiyun Li

A Cultural Revolution Creates Pain and Suffering

Muddy River is a small town with regular everyday folks until a series of events lead to neighbors turning against each other, families ripped apart, and leaders being turned against.

The aftermath is felt years later when the government organizes a series of public events to execute a former Red Guard leader, Shan Gu, inciting violence and backstabbing once again, while others use this as an opportunity to fight for freedom.

This novel is extremely grim, following the lives of a few different members of the community, spanning generations, gender and philosophies. We learn more about the parents of Shan Gu, the shame they have felt and how once she is executed they cope in different ways and become polarized. We watch as a respected member of the community uses this event as a platform for demanding change. We see a young boy caught in the politics of the situation and how the school system works to control the lives and political leanings of the students and their families. We follow as a little girl named Nini who was born with physical challenges and learn how she is ultimately tied forever with Shan Gu.

Nothing is simple in this book, and all the lives of the characters are very intertwined. This story is ultimately a very sad one but with fascinating characters, that do their best to dream and love, despite the restrictive society that they live in. This is a very powerful book.

No comments:

Post a Comment