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A mixture of Kafka and Agatha Christie ... One of the joys of Decoded is its rich evocation of Chinese culture ... What is this book really about? The clue is in the title. This book is more about Jiang 'decoding' himself than breaking enemy encryption. It is an autobiography operating under the cover of spy fiction - and an utterly fascinating read ... Olivia Milburn's translation is superb -- Edward Wilson The Independent The novel shines in its consideration of the ambiguous difficulties of living with such brilliance ... Decoded is compelling for its tightly wrought aphorisms, elegantly turned in Olivia Milburn's translation ... An engaging and highly unusual read Sunday Independent FINALLY, a great Chinese novel ... This strange, twisting tale is told in fizzy, vivid and often beautiful prose. It is an absolute joy to read Economist Decoded is a subtle and complex exploration of cryptography, politics, dreams and their significance ... There is much of interest in this book, from the strange, superstitious beginning to the gradual decline of the Rong family as the twentieth century progresses ... But in the end, it's the complexity of the characters that is Decoded's enduring pleasure London Review of Books Strongly recalls One Hundred Years of Solitude, only this time with the tapestry stitched in silk Sunday Business Post The book's subtle ambiguity is extended to its own conclusion, the decoding of which the reader is compelled to take part in. As for the shrewd, poetic, baffled figure at the heart of this maze, Rong Jinzhen comes to perceive the yin and yang of a cosmic order offering not much consolation Wall Street Journal Subtle and psychologically focused ... the central story is a gripping one ... it leaves you eager to read more of his work -- Alexander Larman The Observer
Mai Jia (the pseudonym of Jiang Benhu) is arguably the most successful writer in China today. His books are constant bestsellers, with total sales over three million copies. He is hailed as the forerunner of Chinese espionage fiction, and has created a unique genre that combines spycraft, code-breaking, crime, human drama, historical fiction, and metafiction. He has won almost every major award in China, including the highest literary honor - the Mao Dun Award.