This was the second novel I picked up during my trip to China last winter.
It is a beautifully written story about two young men from well – to – do backgrounds who are sent into the Chinese country side for “re-education” after their parents are imprisoned for being wealthy and educated during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. They eventually discover a horde of western literature and make it their goal to use it to “civilize” the beautiful young village seamstress they have fallen in love with.
While I think the intention of the author was to praise the power of Western Enlightenment thinking to free the passions of those under repressive communist regimes, as I tried to apply a Biblical Worldview to this story I noticed a deeper truth being affirmed: we are all sinful and lost without Christ. While creativity, hope, and love are suffocated in communism while power, corruption, and poverty thrive, the passions and liscence and greed promoted by Enlightenment thinking are just as deadly. Christ-less communism and Christ-less capitalism all lead to the same place – hell, although I admit one route might be more fun than the other.
I enjoyed the writing style and some of the themes of this book. I enjoyed the praise of the power of the imagination and the discovery of beauty. Sadly though because of what I mentioned above, the purpose for that power and the source of that beauty were never discovered by the book’s characters and thus they ended in the same place they began – lost.