Columbia Univ. Sept. 2021. 328p. ISBN 9780231193948. $100; pap. ISBN 9780231193955. $25. F
Originally published in 2003 and now translated into English for the first time, this novel by acclaimed Taiwanese author Lo is essentially a fictional account of his journey to China with his mother after his father had a serious medical emergency while on vacation there. Spanning 21 days, the book details the daily trials and bureaucratic inner workings involved in securing reliable care for his father and getting him released and sent home to Taiwan. Meanwhile, Lo must meet his half brother and other relations for the first time; his father had deserted them decades ago when fleeing to Taiwan for political reasons. Adding to Lo’s stress, his wife in Taiwan is a month away from giving birth to their second child.
VERDICT While the plot appears to be highly dramatic, Lo’s writing is far from it. The contemplative narrative has some merit in addressing relationships between fathers and sons, including Lo’s role as a father to his own son, but the prose is often flat and meandering
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