GRIEVER: An American Monkey King in China by Gerald Vizenor

GRIEVER: An American Monkey King in China

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Academic but nevertheless entertaining adventures of an American Indian gone to China in an exchange program to teach. Griever de Hocus is a Native American raised on the reservation, a ""mixed-blood tribal trickster,"" a kind of official cosmic clown. Through a government program, he heads off to teach at Zhou Enlai University, about two hours from Beijing, and there the fun begins. The lanky, irreverent Griever overwhelms the Chinese with his antics, as when he insists on freeing marketplace chickens due for the pot or helps condemned prisoners escape. Griever's antics do not endear him to Egas Zhang, the foreign affairs director at the school (a sinister type who is always asking Griever to get him bear paws for an aphrodisiac), but he does end up wooing the lovely translator, Hester Hua Dan, whom he unfortunately gets pregnant. Also unfortunately, she turns out to be Egas' daughter--and he drowns her. The bereaved Griever makes a fantastical escape to Macao on an ultralight plane, bringing with him another beautiful woman (also his lover) with whom he will presumably be spending some time in the free world. This is a socio/political novel, all about clashing cultures and the similarities between Chinese and Native American mythologies--and Vizenor can be didactic in teaching his ""lessons."" But there is humor here, and a great sense of playfulness, which makes for an unusual comic novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1987
ISBN: 0816618496
Publisher: Fiction Collective