Book Review: Readings

Annie Wang

Lili

A Novel of Tiananmen

by Annie Wang

Pantheon, 320 pp., $24

Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen tells two stories. Narrated by the brash young woman of the title, who has just been released from prison after serving time for "corrupt life-style and hooliganism," the first tells of Lili's struggle to put a life together in the aftermath of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The second, illuminated by her tale, is the story of China itself. When a love affair with an American man forces Lili to face her past in order to embrace her future, the reader is easily wrapped up in her heartbreaking journey. When she is 12, we find her in Monkey Village, a rural town where she is "re-educated" with her parents, who have been branded disreputable intellectuals. She is forced to feed pigs and spy on her parents, and is eventually raped by the Party secretary. Lili escapes to Beijing, where she finds another world of chaotic sex and violence. By the time the novel begins, the world has changed for young Chinese, and Lili must eventually decide if she will leave China forever. Her knowledge that if she stays, her children will have "the same humiliating existence I have. A Chinese life" is tempered by her love for the city that once brought her joy.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

More by Amanda Eyre Ward
A Journey Through Hell
A Journey Through Hell
Óscar Martínez talks about riding the rails through Mexico to America

Oct. 11, 2013

Uncorking Creativity
Uncorking Creativity
Amanda Eyre Ward doesn't think you should beat yourself up too much

Nov. 27, 2012

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen, Annie Wang

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle