Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese, and universal in their themes.
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Written by Chinese author A Yi and translated by Alex Woodend, Two Lives: Tales of Life, Love & Crime is unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
There now, that got your attention didn’t it?
I will warn you that the themes of this novel will not be suitable for everyone – I’ll admit that I struggled. The book is a series of 7 short stories, all set in and around China and most with a particularly gruesome scene at one stage or another. As an example the first short story features a brutal rape scene.
That said, each short story does have a moral to it – I believe what you take away from each one is up to you but they certainly make you think. I did anyway.
As this is a translation from Chinese to English you do have to really pay attention! Some of the meanings may have lost their original ‘zing’ when being translated – as we have sayings in English that wouldn’t translate well to any other language, this may be the case for Two Lives.
Do I recommend this book? Yes I do, with caution as to its themes.
I’d love to know what you think, if you’ve read it or if you plan to! Also, please do check out the other reviews from the bloggers taking part in this tour below.
About the Author – A Yi
A Yi is a celebrated Chinese writer living in Beijing.He worked as a police officer before becoming editor-in-chief of Chutzpah, an avant garde literary magazine. He is the author of several collections of short stories and has published fiction in Granta and the Guardian. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the People’s Literature Top 20 Literary Giants of the Future. A Perfect Crime, his first book in English was published by Oneworld in 2015.He is noted for his unsentimental worldview, and challenging literary style.
About the Translator – Alex Woodend
Alex Woodend is a writer/ translator whose fascination with Spanish and Chinese began at Franklin & Marshall College. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he wrote his Masters on early post-Mao literature. Translator of The Captain Riley Adventures , Murder in Dragon City, and other works, he currently lives in New York.
About the Publisher
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
This post contains an Amazon Associates link. Should you choose to buy Two Lives: Tales of Life, Love & Crime using the link then I shall receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher Flame Tree Press in return for taking part in this blog tour.