"Lust and desire, which placed private interest over the public good, was a bourgeois luxury and a political crime."
Investing time into a 300+ page novel is sadly something I really lack adequate time for these days, and that is my loss. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to exploring this highly praised novel ( shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and last year's winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize). You know me, sucker for a shortlist.
There are sublime moments within the novel that place it firmly in the winner's seat, and yet.... I really struggled with this one. I feel that I've gained a new understanding about the social upheaval and struggle of the cultural revolution, a period in history that was completely foreign to me and that, I find really impressive. My struggles were with keeping track of the many characters and time frames given my own time constraints - reading a few pages per night just before heading to sleep. Perhaps if I had read the novel on a plane or by the pool on holidays, my response would be slightly more favourable. Perhaps this is a work that demands undivided attention for better appreciation.
I still think its great, and I just wish I could have immersed myself more fully within its pages. I did love the book within a book and reflections on the transgressive nature of storytelling.
4 out of 5 people should never smash a violin.