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New Novel About Expat Life in China


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Finished it yesterday on an airplane. Would give it 3 stars out of 5.


I like the way it immerses the reader in small-town China circa 2008. It draws the main characters well. The writing isn't always clear, but the narrative flows pretty well for a first novel.


I have a couple of constructive suggestions:


1. Sometimes it seemed to me that "five-dollar words" were sprinkled in at random without serving any specific descriptive purpose. Would use simpler vocabulary when you can.

2. The pinyin-like transcriptions of actual speech are clumsy and difficult to decipher. Would keep these to a minimum. Example:

Kanne wo bushigen ni jiangma? Waiguoren duinaazhong-juzhiwenyade meinu tebie youpianhao. Birushuo women zijedezhang-xiaomie, ...he said, indicating Bella's aunt.


All in all, I found it worth while. This book would probably be of most interest to people who have taught in China plus their family and friends. Would I read another by the same author: Probably yes.



PS: I submitted an Amazon review.

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Thanks a lot, @abcdefg. I really appreciate you taking the time to read it! As to your suggestions:


1) Point taken. My reasoning in including such words was to disorient the reader, thereby simulating the feeling of being in a strange environment. I was most likely trying too hard, though. This is something I'm been getting better at. I blame Cormac McCarthy, haha.


2) I formatted the pinyin incorrectly because I was trying to allow readers to hear the dialogue through Guillard's ears, who doesn't speak Mandarin very well. (He's basically picking out the words that he knows.) I can see how this would be annoying if you speak Mandarin, though.


Useful feedback from someone who knows China. Again, thank you!

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