Review: The Incarnations

The Incarnations
The Incarnations by Susan Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brutal. Ugly. Twisted. But mesmerizingly told. As I finished the last page, I turned again to the beginning.

The Incarnations unwinds the tale of two souls connected throughout many centuries – as family, friends, lovers, enemies. In each time, torturous circumstances yield hope, terror, violence, and death. The stories are told in letters from one soul to the other, delivered anonymously as Beijing readies for the 2008 Olympics. Are they true remembrances, revealed via ingesting prophetic herbs, or the destructive imaginings of a mal-treated madwoman, driven to insanity by the push and pull of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and later Chinese commercialism? We only know that the cycle of damage has continued.

I have never read a book set in China, in any era, that portrayed happiness and well-being. Is this just what gets released for an English-reading audience? If there are contented Chinese novels, please recommend them to me.

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