Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, October 25, 2014

White Horse by Yan Ge (2014)

White Horse by Yan Ge is a very interesting coming of age story set in a small village in contemporary west China.  The central character is Yun Yun, a twelve year old girl living with her widowed father.  She is very close with her slightly older female cousin and her mother plays a big part in the story.  The story focuses on the developing sexuality of the girls.  Of course like all children that age they cannot imagine their parents ever having sex.  The cousin begins to develop breasts before Yun Yun and in one shocking and powerful scene she kisses the breasts of her cousin.

We see a lot of the village life, we sit in on meals, the food sounds good, and witness some terrible family fights.  The cousin gets a boyfriend and Yun Yun observes them kissing on the mouth, something they have been told only "dirty foreigners" do.  The cousin's mother finds out she has a boyfriend and things get very ugly for a while.  We see how success in school at an early age sets the stage for a potential better life. 

There are dark secrets in the family which are very exciting.   

A lot of the book is about the development of sexual feelings and knowledge by  the two young girls.  They live in a repressive culture without the internet or cable TV so they have to more or less learn on their own.  Of course growing up in the country they have seen animals having sex.  We see them developing interest in boys at school.  We see how competitive school was.  

Yan Ge does a superb job of making the central characters all very real.  I cared about the characters and found them very well developed and interesting.  

Dreams and visions  of a white horse haunt Yun Yun.  The horse is an important figure in Chinese mythology and is the seventh figure in the Zodiac.  

I enjoyed this book a lot.  I think it could be treated as a young adult novel with a mild caution warning but certainly readers of all ages will find much to like about White Horse.

White Horse is published by Hope Road Publishing.  

Hope Road Publishing's mission statement.

From their webpage

"HopeRoad Publishing is an exciting, independent publisher, vigorously supporting voices too often neglected by the mainstream. We are growing a reputation as promoters of multicultural literature, with a special focus on Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. At the heart of our publishing is the love of outstanding writing from writers you, the reader, would otherwise have missed.

Most of our titles are e-books only, but we have ventured into print with three outstanding titles: The Cost of SugarTula the Revolt and Indian Magic. Our list? It covers fiction, non-fiction, young adults, and works in translation. Very soon we are launching something new: a crime fiction list."

Take a few minutes and look at the offerings of Hope Road Publishing and you will probably find several books you want too read soon, I know I did.

Official Bio of Yan Ge

Yan Ge was born in 1984 in Sichuan in the People’s Republic of China. She recently completed a PhD in comparative literature at Sichuan University and is the chairperson of the China Young Writer Association.

Her early work focused on the wonders, gods and ghosts of Chinese myth and made her especially popular with teenagers. The novel May Queen (2008) saw her break through as a critically acclaimed author. She now writes realist fiction, strongly Sichuan-based, focussing with warmth, humour and razor-sharp insights on squabbling families and small-town life. People’s Literature magazine recently chose her – in a list reminiscent of The New Yorker's ‘20 under 40’ – as one of China’s twenty future literary masters, and in 2012 she was chosen as Best New Writer by the prestigious Chinese Literature Media Prize (华语文学传媒大奖 最佳新人奖). Yan Ge was a guest writer at the Netherlands Crossing Borders festival in The Hague, November 2012.

Her new novel 《我们家》(The Chilli Bean Paste Clan) was published in Chinese in May 2013 by Zhejiang Literature Press. 

Mel u

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