Half of man is woman by Zhang Xianliang

IMG_6440Set in Yinchuan, China. Reviewed on 2018/11: https://www.instagram.com/p/BqAeyx2ns4x/

If I had to stop now and select a #bestbookofthemonth it’d probably be this one. I had zero expectations going into this book and then while reading it, my mind just kept trying to box #halfofmaniswoman into a specific category to no avail. The first half of the book feels like a strong contender to all the outstanding #gulag and #laborcampliterature hailing mostly from Russia. #zhangxianliang adds a #sexual #erotic and #sensual elements which make this story a #subversive and different one. Does sexual pleasure have a place in labor camps? If you reduce people to animals and basic needs, isn’t sex inevitably part of that too? Needless to say, I was blown away by this specific first half… Afterwards #zhang starts incorporating some #magical moments and special guests which take the story to some dubious levels and completely derail all the great stuff happening at the beginning. Overall there is a sense of discovering what’s real and what isn’t, what’s felt from what isn’t and how do you discover/realize that. However the gap between the two halves felt disjointed and not cohesive to me. I’d still #highlyrecommend this book because of its unrelenting drive to be something else from what the reader is expecting. Finding the surprising and wished for carnal realm of the unknown even in a #chineselaborcamp . #chineseliterature#ningxia #antirightistmovement #张贤亮 #宁夏 #反右运动 #censorship

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