Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

August Books 6) Soul Mountain / 灵山, by Gao Xingjian

Gao Xingjian won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2000, which was the year this, his best known novel, was published in English; most of his work had been available in Swedish since the early 1990s, which may explain why the Nobel committee got to him before much of the English-speaking world did.

Soul Mountain is a story of an unnamed narrator exploring China, in search of the mythical mountain of the title, also telling himself the story of a pair of lovers ("you" and "she") on a similar journey. It rather lacks a plot; it's a series of vignettes of encounters with the legacies of the Cultural Revolution, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and other aspects of Chinese historical experience, with a sense that the storyteller is trying to reintegrate a shattered sense of self from the debris of China's traumas.

Because of the lack of structure, and the style of writing, I found it tough going (though I've seen the translation criticised for not conveying Gao's meaning properly). I got much more out of Wild Swans.
Tags: bookblog 2010, nobel laureates, poc

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