The Girl Who Played Go, by Shan Sa
Beautifully written tragedy about the Sino-Japanese war
(Review posted 27 Dec 2003 18:49:03)

The book is like a necklace, nearly 100 jewels on a string; 92 very short chapters (two or five small pages of widely-spaced lines), strictly alternating between the voices of the two main characters (who don't even meet until chapter 45). The writing (and the translation; from the French, by Adriana Hunter) is clear and elegant.

He is a Japanese soldier, stationed in Manchuria in troubled times, in the choas of war. She is a Chinese girl growing up in a world that is about to go up in flames. We get images of their past lives through compact expressive memories, and their presents through their parallel narratives and their games of go in the public square.

They have no futures.

It's a dark and a tragic book, but also a beautiful one.

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