A sweeping, romantic, and complex novel
about two young lovers in contemporary China who struggle to overcome
politics, family, and secrets of the past.
Mu is a young girl in Beijing, a singer, who is in love with a famous
young punk rock musician named Jiang. Jiang has subversive political
views, and he has written a manifesto that he keeps trying to broadcast,
without much success. Instead, he weaves his politics into his music.
We learn their story through Lana, a translator who works for a
publisher in London. The publisher has come upon letters exchanged by Mu
and Jiang as well as their journals, and as Lana translates we learn
more and more about the two lovers. Mu's voice dominates, but the
fleeting glimpses of Jiang reveal a complex and conflicted man, and
together their relationship is anything but easy. Jiang hates his
father, his mother is dead, he is well educated, and he is from the
North. Mu, on the other hand, is from the South, and shares a strong
emotional bond with her parents. After a particularly fierce fight, Mu
leaves China to go on tour performing in the United States. Meanwhile,
Jiang pushes his political manifesto further, and once the Chinese
government is forced to intervene to stop the publication, we learn that
he has hidden the truth about his past and especially about his family.