Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: Apologies Forthcoming

Summary: A totally illuminating collection of stories centered around China's Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, which, as we learn, continues even today -- with both sides still holding out, with "apologies forthcoming." Xujun Eberlein lived in China during that tumultous period and now makes her home in America. This, her first short story collection, is both disturbing and enthralling. -- Livingston Press

I can't express how flattered I was when Xujun Eberlein asked me to read and review her new collection of short stories called APOLOGIES FORTHCOMING. I was brand-spanking new to blogging, and she was one of the first authors who contacted me asking that I review a book -- I was just thrilled. Ms. Eberlein and I agreed that I would post my review when her book was available in stores, and I'm happy to say that you can now buy it here.

I haven't read lot of short story collections in the past, but recently I have read a few and found that I really enjoyed them. I have always shied away from short story collections because I thought they were for more intellectual readers, but I now realize that I have been missing out on some wonderful reading. The stories in APOLOGIES FORTHCOMING are centered around the Chinese Cultural Revolution -- some stories take place during this time period and others take place after. What all these stories have in common is the life-altering effect that it had on the people who were involved in this turmoil.

I read a non-fiction book a few months ago about a girl who lived through the Chinese Revolution, FEATHER IN THE STORM; and it was the first time that I really understood what took place during this tumultous time period. I was absolutely shocked over some of the abuse that I read about! After reading APOLOGIES FORTHCOMING, I started to think more about the long-lasting effects of this cultural change on the Chinese people. Each story in this book will touch you deeply -- so many lives were changed forever.

One of my favorite stories was called "Feathers." This is a story about a young girl whose sister died while serving in the Red Guards. Like the character in the story, Ms. Eberlein also lost her sixteen year old sister who was in the Red Guards. I felt so much compassion for the young girl who was forced to grow up so much faster because of the death of her sister. In addition, I was distraught that a sixteen year old girl was fighting in the Revolution and lost her life for that cause. It was a deeply moving and troubling story, yet it was beautifully written.

While this book was disturbing and at times a little difficult to read because of the subject matter, there is no doubt that Ms. Eberlein is a very gifted writer. Through her vivid descriptions of the characters as well as Chinese life, she evokes a great deal of emotion from her readers. Ms. Eberlein has been awarded the 2007 Tart Fiction Award for APOLOGIES FORTHCOMING. In addition, she has won numerous other awards for her writings.

If you are interested in reading more about Ms. Eberlein, you can check out an excerpt of her book here or read an interview with her here. In addition to her website, she also maintains a blog called Inside-Out China, a Literary and Cultural Blog, which I found very interesting too.

Make sure you come back tomorrow because Ms. Eberlein will be guest blogging about being a new mom!

1 comment:

Sandra Novack said...

Can't wait to read the collection! "Feathers," especially, seems moving. I admire work that is not afraid to be political and yet also so willingly addresses those issues close to home--family, loss, love.