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BookBrowse Reviews Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

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Beijing Coma

A Novel

by Ma Jian

Beijing Coma
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  • First Published:
    May 2008, 592 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2009, 624 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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Novel. A powerful act of defiance and a work of art, against tyranny and death.

How can a novel about the massacre of hundreds of people narrated by a man in a coma be beautiful, even life-affirming? Let me not mislead you; this is a painful novel, filled with brutality and horror. It would be impossible to read, were it not for the protagonist's voice, filled with the light of vivid memories and the sweet ache of youth. Beijing Coma is 600 pages of fiction based on facts too awful to bear, but the way Ma Jian tells the story makes the novel hard to put down, even when it's painful to read.

Comatose and dead to the world for ten years, Dai Wei has become little else than a collection of memories. Trapped in the prison of his body, he dives into the past and tries to make sense of his claustrophobic present. In the first part of the book he focuses alternately on his father's persecution during the Cultural Revolution and his own first loves...

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