In her provocative debut, King imagines a world in which China's One Child Policy has created a dystopian future of longing, inequality, and constant surveillance.
At 40, Lee Wei-guo is a well-established physical trainer. He’s even been “voted one of Beijing’s top master personal trainers the last five years in a row by The Worldly Bachelor.” Like the other men he knows, Wei-guo longs for the companionship of marriage, but China’s One Child Policy and preference for male children has created a future in which it’s notoriously difficult—and expensive—for men to marry. Women are allowed to take multiple husbands to try and breed more daughters, an authoritarian State has criminalized homosexuality and mental illness, and men are provided with State-regulated outlets for both pleasure and aggression. But when Wei-guo meets Wu May-ling through an expensive matchmaker, he intuits that she and her Advanced family may be the ticket to his future happiness. Despite his growing connection with May-ling and her two husbands, brothers Hann and XX, Wei-guo’s hopes for a straightforward marriage contract are thrown into chaos when a battle in the Strategic Games turns unexpectedly deadly. Can Wei-guo outsmart the State-sponsored violence that has rendered men like him so dispensable? Told in alternating viewpoints, King's novel takes its cues from classic sci-fi dystopias, from The Handmaid’s Tale to Ender’s Game, to demonstrate the repressive control mechanisms already at work in everyday life.
An intelligent, incisive commentary on how love survives—or doesn’t—under the heel of the State.