The Incarnations by Susan Barker

The Incarnations

Susan Barker

Good for a wild ride through ancient and modern China, this reads a little like a short story collection although there is an overriding story arc concerning who is sending Wang mysterious letters and why. I wouldn't call it an enjoyable read, since it’s really very grim and unsettling. Yet the unpredictable nature of the narrative is intriguing, and it is certainly a powerful story.

Extract

The puppetmaker reaches for the nearest rock and dashes the sharp, jagged edge across his wrist, over and over, drawing blood. Other slaves rush to restrain him, grappling the wrist-cutting stone from his suicidal grip. It is a pitiful and tragic sight, but when I look at you, you are shaking with laughter, your eyes creased up.
It’s just like you, Tiger, to find the humour in the bleakest of scenes.

Parallels
  • The Dark Road by Ma Jian
  • History of the Rain by Niall Williams
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Violence
Explicit sexual content