Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

Beijing Coma

Ma Jian

This epic portrayal of Chinese political history details the student uprisings of 1989 from the tentative beginnings of the hunger strike through to the final bloody massacre in Tiananmen Square. This is really Dai Wei’s story as he lies in a coma, interpreting the sounds around him. But, I was most interested in his mother's role - all the hardships she endures as she lives through such an intense and defining period of China's history.

Extract

The blockade at Zhongguancun had only been four rows deep. We'd charged through it very easily. The officers had been unarmed, and had retreated to the sides of the road as we approached. Some of them even laughed and waved.
But as we neared this blockade, the police raised their megaphones and bellowed aggressively. We came to a terrified halt. I swallowed the last mouthful of my pork bun, and shouted, 'Student Marshals - hold hands! Don't give the police an excuse to attack us!' The megaphone made my voice sound crisp and clear.

Parallels
  • Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
  • A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li
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Violence