Released on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tianamen Square Protests, Ma Jian’s China Dream is a dystopian satire of the near future where the Chinese government seeks to replace the private dreams of the Chinese people with the collective and state-sanctioned dream of the Chinese government. Ma Daode, the corrupt bureacrat at the center of the novel, is the person responsible for this monumental task and, as he fully commits himself to the cause, his begins losing grip with his sanity. China Dream is a searing critique against a government hellbent on the total control of their population at the cost of its rich history.
In Who Killed My Father, Edouard Louis has created both a tender love letter from a son to his father, chronicling the timeline of their strained and yet loving relationship, and a searing indictment of the French government’s policies against the poor and the marginalized. In this slim volume, less than a hundred pages in total, Louis navigates between two modes: loving melancholy for his father of which he writes: “I knew I loved you, but I felt a need to tell other people that I hated you” and seething anger for the upper and the ruling class who are indifferent towards the poor and marginalized. Who Killed My Father is required reading for our troubled times where political awareness must be matched with empathy and love.
“We once gave Nikolai a life of flesh and blood; and I’m doing it over again, this time by words,” writes the narrator of Yiyun Li’s latest novel. Her son commits suicide and, in an act of grief, the narrator constructs a world where the two of them can converse again: in the realm of the novel. Li, writing the book months after her own son’s suicide, seemingly breaks barriers between life and death so that mother and son can talk for the last time. A deeply moving account of an unexpected loss and the grieving that follows.