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The Beijing of possibilities : stories
Jonathan Tel
Adult Fiction TEL

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Tel (Freud's Alphabet) spins a collection of dreamlike short stories out of the lives of Beijing's residents, from crime-fighting, gorilla-costumed messengers to thieves, buskers and composers. The stories form an impression of Beijing on the eve of the 2008 Olympics, weaving in the culture, history and present reality of a city undergoing rapid change. In "The Book of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dreams," a modern young couple attempts to return the souvenirs of a woman's bourgeois past, hidden during the Cultural Revolution, which they discover while renovating their apartment. A musician in "Shadow of Candles Flickering Red" remembers picking up the ehru, a traditional Chinese instrument, while being "re-educated" in the Chinese countryside. In "The Most Beautiful Woman in China," some of these characters reappear in a tale that combines everything from mythological traditions to the sayings of Deng Xiaoping to create a humming, ethereal image of the city and its culture. The collection, part W.G. Sebald and part Italo Calvino, provides a glimpse for the Western reader into the complicated, vibrant world of Beijing. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In this eclectic collection of a dozen short stories set in China, Tel (Freud's Alphabet Book) describes a wide range of personalities, hardships, and triumphs. In the title piece, a 29-year-old single woman from a village arranges to be a foster mother to a Beijing couple's newborn for compensation, but her charge dies only hours after the arrangement is made. A year later, she is surprised to be granted coveted residency status in Beijing, but her move to the city is disillusioning. In another story, "The Three Lives of Little Yu," a childless couple try for 30 years to acquire a daughter. Whether describing the mishaps of a singing courier in "Year of the Gorilla," online relationships in "Unofficial History of the Embroidered Couch," or the experiences of a maid in "Rise Upward to the Blue Clouds," Tel manages to write surrealistically and concisely. VERDICT Although academics will more likely gravitate to this title, anyone who can appreciate quirky and offbeat storytelling will enjoy Tel's interpretive look at life in modern China.-Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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