LAPSE OF TIME by Wang Anyi

LAPSE OF TIME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Intimate, well-observed collection of short fiction, and the second book in this publisher's ""New Chinese Fiction"" series. Written in the early 80's, these precise stories look back in muted anger and regret at China's Cultural Revolution, offering broad themes like uprootedness, displacement, and despair. In ""The Destination,"" a Shanghai native returns home after ten years of forced living in the countryside and finds his city and family irrevocably changed. ""Life in a Small Courtyard"" and ""The Stage a Miniature World"" are miniature tableaux of Chinese subcultures--the former a wry portrait of married life, and the latter a study of a cultural troupe on the skids. ""The Base of the Wall"" is a Chinese Our Town: cycles of change in two bordering neighborhoods are evoked by a montage-like arrangement of individual destinies. Perhaps the most precocious tale here is ""Between Themselves,"" a deceptively innocent story about an upstart young boy and the teacher whose life he nearly destroys. But the book's most successful piece is ""Lapse of Time,"" a novella tracing the fall and rise of a ""capitalist"" family during and after the Cultural Revolution. Ouyang Duanli, the story's female protagonist, fights to hold together a family splintered by war, prosperity, and revolutionary ideology. The tale has the feel of a small epic yet never lapses into sentimentality or melodrama. Well-crafted if somewhat conventional collection that's a solid addition to the growing body of Chinese literature on the Cultural Revolution.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
Publisher: China Books