* 2024 Taipei Book Fair Award
* 2023 Openbook Award
* 2023 Taiwan Literature Award
Zhang Guixing, one of the greatest living sinophone authors, once again returns to the lush rainforests of Sarawak, where the quest for a lost family heirloom becomes a meditation on multi-generational memory, colonial expansionism, rainforest ecology, and the evolutionary history of life on Earth.
At the close of the 1880, a beautiful young woman and her father arrive in the town of Yunlo in Sarawak. Parasol in hand rain or shine, the sophisticated Fang Wu attracts numerous suitors in the frontier town, but only develops affections for Tien Chin-Hung, an ambitious young man seeking his fortune in the resource-rich region. The happiness of the young lovers is cut short when a giant crocodile devours Fang Wu, taking with her the seventy-two carat diamond Chin-Hung has gifted to her. Chin-Hung eventually becomes a wealthy merchant, but he can never forget the lost jewel that symbolizes the love he shared with Fang Wu – a diamond known as the Star of Sarawak.
Eighty years later, various powers converge on Sarawak competing for political dominance, and seeking not only the Star of Sarawak, but also a lost British crown. The grandson of Chin-Hung, Tien Chin-Shu, inherits his grandfather’s obsession with the diamond, and assembles a team of young companions to undertake an expedition to recover the family heirloom. Deep in the rainforests of Sarawak, the expedition becomes entangled in the ongoing conflict between communist insurgents and British colonial troops, only surviving through the timely interventions of a mysterious red-haired woman. Seeming to appear and vanish at will, the woman is an enigma who only deepens the foreboding sense that Chin-Shu’s fate lies in the hands of forces outside of mere human affairs.
With Eyelids of Morning, Zhang Guixing has once again surpassed himself, producing an epic novel that encompasses everything from rainforest ecology to the colonial history of Sarawak to a cosmological view of the evolution of all life on Earth, shuttling readers from the towns and forests of northern Borneo to the depths of interplanetary space. Under his pen, colonists deliver progress through the barrel of a gun, terrifying beasts lie in wait in the dark recesses of the rainforest, and all living things are but grist for the mill of biological and cosmological evolution. In a world where human endeavors are easily laid to waste by the forces of nature, the fearsome crocodile of Sarawak’s rivers, survivor of five mass extinctions throughout ecological history, is perhaps the one fitting symbol of hope, renewal, and self-determination.
With his feet firmly planted in the tropical rainforest – the lungs of the planet – Zhang Guixing, one of the great novelists of the global south, casts his gaze across a century of intercultural commerce and conflict in Sarawak, situates it within a grand vision of ecological and cosmological destiny, and, in relating the tale of an inheritance lost and regained, points the way to humanity’s future.