*2017 Chiu Ko Fiction Prize
The doors of life seem to be closing for the protagonist of this story and for his lover. He is a high school senior on the verge of taking his college entrance exams and constantly feeling pressure from his parents to study abroad. She is a literary editor, a lover of poetry and fiction who acceded to her sick mother’s demands that she lead a “happy” life by marrying a doctor and moving to America. Both wish desperately to escape realities they had no hand in choosing; both seem to see each other as their only way out. Meanwhile, the external pressures bent on driving them apart only strengthen their resistance, driving the situation to a point at which something has to break.
Author, historian, and public intellectual Yang Zhao employs a highly rhythmic, fluid prose in this narrative of secret passions and public repression, in which time and space themselves are a palpable medium, a conduit for emotion. Readers who open the book will assuredly fall headlong after the main characters, who are at best controlling their descent through the chasms of the heart.