Dai Wei lies in his bedroom, a prisoner in his body, after he was shot in the head at the Tiananmen Square protest ten years earlier and left in a coma. As his mother tends to him, and his friends bring news of their lives in an almost unrecognisable China, Dai Wei escapes into his memories, weaving together the events that took him from his harsh childhood in the last years of the Cultural Revolution to his time as a microbiology student at Beijing University.
As the minute-by-minute chronicling of the lead-up to his shooting becomes ever more intense, the reader is caught in a gripping, emotional journey where the boundaries between life and death are increasingly blurred.
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As the millennium draws near, Dai Wei, a pro-democracy protestor who was shot during the demonstration at Tiananmen Square in 1989, has been in a coma for almost a decade. As he wakes, he realises that the rich imaginative world afforded to him as a coma patient is a startling contrast with the death-in-life of the world outside.Review:
"Once in a while - perhaps every 10 years, or even every generation - a novel appears that profoundly questions the way we look at the world, and at ourselves. Beijing Coma is a poetic examination not just of a country at a defining moment in its history, but of the universal right to remember and to hope. It is, in every sense, a landmark work of fiction" -- Tash Aw, "Daily Telegraph" "Epic in scope but intimate in feeling ... magnificent" -- Tom Deveson, "The Times" "Simultaneously a large-scale portrait of citizens writing in the grip of the party and the state and a strikingly intimate study of the fragility of the body and the persistence of self and memory" -- Chandrahas Choudhury, "Observer" "[Beijing Coma] merits the term 'masterpiece'. . . . [T]he narrative strategy succeeds at creating suspense page after page and lends a poignant, inexorable flavour to the events after the massacre." -- "The Vancouver Sun" "A work of fiction so realistic that it can be read as a tragic memoir of a time of hope, turmoil and atrocity. . . . An immaculate lesson in history, it is a vivid reminder that all things change and all is swept away." -- "The Owen Sound Sun Times""Already notorious for writing novels banned in his homeland due to their criticism of China's policies on human rights and Tibet, the now London-based Ma Jian here launches his most sustained and intricate indictment of his former country. . . . As novelist, he painstakingly recreates the cycle of idealism, arrogance, confusion and despair that characterized the experience of demonstrators on the ground in [Tiananmen] square." -- "Toronto Star ""[Beijing Coma] will make wavesacross the world. . . . Ma combines a gift for densely detailed, panoramic fiction with a resonant prophetic voice. . . . Beijing Coma" "may have huge documentary value, but it grips and moves as epic fiction above all . . . Beijing Coma has the visceral physicality that stamps all of Ma Jian's work. He is a poet of the body in all its ecstasies, embarrassments and agonies." -- "The Independant" "A huge achievement . . . a landmark account through fiction of a country whose rise has amazed the world, but which remains cloaked in shadows. . . . finely written and translated." -- "The Times ""This is an epic yet intimate work that deserves to be recognised and to endure as "the "great Tiananmen novel."-- "Financial Times ""This timely yet dazzling piece of fiction will be seen simply for what it is: a modern literary masterpiece."-- "Sunday Express ""This vivid, pungent, often blackly funny book is a mighty gesture of remembrance against the encroaching forces of silence." -- "Guardian ""Astonishingly brave... the most important Chinese book since Wild Swans." -- "London Lite" "[A] bleak, wrenching generational saga . . . Ma Jian achieves startling effects through Dai Wei's dispassionate narration, making one man's felled body a symbol of lost possibility." -- "Publishers Weekly ""One of the most important and courageous voices in Chinese literature." -- Gao Xingjian, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature "Ma Jian is arguably his country's essential writer." -- "The Globe and Mail"
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