East Wind, West Wind
Penguin, $16.95 pb
It may seem flippant and insensitive to call this account of political threat and persecution a highly enjoyable book, but it is precisely that. Fang Xiangshu and Trevor Hay have fashioned a beguiling tale out of Fang's experiences during the Cultural Revolution and China’s political and social turmoil in later years. The product of their collaboration strikes exactly the right note. They have made no attempt to capture the idioms of Shanghai speech, but have substituted a restrained Australian colloquialism, judiciously peppered with examples of Chinese maxims, proverbs, and quotations from classic poets to give their prose something of an exotic flavour. Their narrative is constructed with great skill, negotiating expertly between the past and present, China and Australia.