Saturday, September 27, 2008

Beijing Coma

The novel Beijing Coma, which came out this year, wrote about the June 4 massacre from the perspective of a student protester who was shot in the head, went into a coma, and regained consciousness years later, while still completely paralyzed. People around him thought he was in a vegetative state. In fact, he was fully conscious, even with heightened senses because of his paralysis. It is a fascinating instrument, and the interplay between his thoughts against the thoughts and actions of those around him, including his mother, his friends, and neighbours, is eye-opening and captivating.

As to the depiction of events before, during, and after the protests and massacre, they were largely accurate as far as I can tell. It referred to hundreds of “class enemies” being eaten in GuangXi province during the Cultural Revolution - well-attested to by numerous accounts. Families of the executed having to pay for the bullet used in the execution - widely-know facts. Tied-up bodies of people killed in the Cultural Revolution floating down to Hong Kong - I still remember reading about them in the newspapers in Hong Kong. As to the events related to June 4, the references are so numerous and accessible there is no need for me to point them out.

It is highly recommended, both for those of us who lived through those times, as well as those who were too young to personally experience those times, who now wish to find out for themselves what happened and why.

By the way, I would have preferred to read the book in Chinese - as I suspect many of us would. Unfortunately, the book has been published only in English so far. The Chinese version will come out only next year.

No comments: