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My South Seas Sleeping Beauty: A Tale of Memory and Longing Hardcover – Mar 15 2007

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The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts

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This Chinese-Malay import starts out with all the right magical realism touches: an exotic locale--the jungle in Borneo--with a dysfunctional, eccentric family amid an unstable social climate. The narrator, Su Qi, is the son of a brilliant, egomaniacal despot of a father and beautiful, reclusive mother. The father hosts bacchic revelries in the massive, labyrinthine garden constructed by the mother, whose senses are preternaturally attuned to the dense, creeping patchwork of gorgeous flora and perilous fauna. After Su Qi's teenage love suffers a horrific accident in the garden and falls into a coma, he leaves for Taiwan, returning years later to finally discern his family's true machinations in the South Seas. With sections that seem written by an entirely different author for an entirely different book, this is ultimately frustrating, as Guixing lays all the groundwork for a fascinating family saga but then goes and constructs a rickety romance on top of it. Reminiscent of--but not nearly on a par with--Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh (1996). Ian Chipman
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My South Seas Sleeping Beauty is an alternating narrative of life in and around the jungles of Malaysia, a mixture of fantasy and exoticism (the good kind), and of university life in Taiwan. It is a highly descriptive, occasionally erotic, and often gripping novel that will be simultaneously accessible and unfamiliar to Western readers—and the translation is first-rate.

(Howard Goldblatt, The University of Notre Dame)

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