Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.
Futuristic look at China
ECONOMY, COMMUNISM DRIVE NOVEL
BY PEGGY HYLAND
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
THE FAT YEARS” is a daring novel of a utopian China in the near future. Banned in China, it is Chan Koonchung’s first work to be published in the United States.
After a global financial collapse, China enters an era of economic dominance. Happy citizens do not question their prosperity, but a handful of people notice a strange gap in history—an entire month is missing. “The Fat Years” goes behind the lie to ask, “between a good hell and a counterfeit paradise, which one will people choose?”
Chan divides his tale into three parts. The first part follows author Lao Chen as he meets the cast of characters. The second sees all of their paths intersect or even collide. The third is an introspective and often analytical epilogue that highlights the ideologies driving the various players.
The book is timely with its invocation of our own financial crisis, futuristic in proposing an outcome based on a Chinese “Golden Age of Ascendancy,” and timeless in exploring the political and cultural ramifications of upheaval. Chan encourages readers to examine their own viewpoints and complacency toward governments of all types.
Quoting communist mantras like “perfect wisdom and courage” and “remember the bitter past and think of the sweet future,” he shows their seductiveness and how they could lull an enormous nation into a foggy dream world.
Peggy Hyland is a freelance reviewer in Fredericksburg.
THE FAT YEARS
By Chan Koonchung
(Doubleday $26.95, 336 pp.)
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