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Little Gods

Ctedly seventeen years later it is her daughter Liya who inherits the silences and contradictions of her life Liya who grew up in America takes her mother’s ashes to China Liya’s memories are joined by those of two others Zhu Wen the woman last to know Su Lan. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest reviewI have a lot of complicated feelings about this one which always seems to be the case with three star books Little Gods features three main characters who are all connected to a fourth character Su Lan their perspectives combine to create a portrait of her Zhu Wen lived in the same building as Su Lan in Shanghai and helped her raise her infant daughter Yongzong went to school with Su Lan and later married her leaving her on the day of their daughter s birth And Liya is Su Lan s only child who spent most of her life in America but returns to China with her mother s ashesThe characters were easily what I liked best about this book they were complex and realistic and sympathetic and flawed I appreciated the deep dive into the three main characters lives Over the course of this short book I came to understand their histories motivations and personalities surprisingly intimately Learning about Su Lan through their eyes with only their memories and impressions of her and no insight into her innermost thoughts and feelings was fascinating It makes you wonder what people think about you and what they ll remember about you after you re goneThere were a few things that bothered me about the writing style the lack of uotation marks to indicate when characters are speaking the use of second person language when Zhu Wen or Yongzong referred to Liya Nothing I thought was objectively bad but things that subjectively just weren t to my taste I always prefer when authors stick to the traditional way of writing rather than getting all experimental which distracts from the story Maybe that s why literary fiction isn t my favorite genre In addition the brief explanations of the theoretical physics concepts that Su Lan studied were over my head Little Gods navigates the relationships between people friends husbands and wives mothers and daughters It seamlessly explores themes of immigration disability grief memory revolution and the forward movement of time I m torn between three and four stars because I wasn t consistently drawn into the story and for the most part found it easy to put down although there were points especially toward the end when it succeeded in making me feel very strongly A Daddy for Christmas reviewI have a lot of complicated feelings about this one which always seems to be the case with three star books Little Gods features three main characters who are all connected to a fourth character Su Lan their perspectives combine to create a portrait of her Zhu Wen lived in the same building as Su Lan in Shanghai and helped her Banned in Britain raise her infant daughter Yongzong went to school with Su Lan and later married her leaving her on the day of their daughter s birth And Liya is Su Lan s only child who spent most of her life in America but Hour of the Beast returns to China with her mother s ashesThe characters were easily what I liked best about this book they were complex and Dictionary Of Dreams realistic and sympathetic and flawed I appreciated the deep dive into the three main characters lives Over the course of this short book I came to understand their histories motivations and personalities surprisingly intimately Learning about Su Lan through their eyes with only their memories and impressions of her and no insight into her innermost thoughts and feelings was fascinating It makes you wonder what people think about you and what they ll The Love of a Latino remember about you after you Other Days, Other Eyes re goneThere were a few things that bothered me about the writing style the lack of uotation marks to indicate when characters are speaking the use of second person language when Zhu Wen or Yongzong Deception Island referred to Liya Nothing I thought was objectively bad but things that subjectively just weren t to my taste I always prefer when authors stick to the traditional way of writing The Family rather than getting all experimental which distracts from the story Maybe that s why literary fiction isn t my favorite genre In addition the brief explanations of the theoretical physics concepts that Su Lan studied were over my head Little Gods navigates the The First Partition of Poland relationships between people friends husbands and wives mothers and daughters It seamlessly explores themes of immigration disability grief memory The Hero of Varay revolution and the forward movement of time I m torn between three and four stars because I wasn t consistently drawn into the story and for the most part found it easy to put down although there were points especially toward the end when it succeeded in making me feel very strongly

characters Little Gods

On the night of June Fourth a woman gives birth in a Beijing hospital alone Thus begins the unraveling of Su Lan a brilliant physicist who until this moment has successfully erased her past fighting what she calls the mind’s arrow of timeWhen Su Lan dies unexpe. As I sit down to write this review I m struggling a bit because I m trying to figure out what my feelings are toward this book Normally when I read a book I will either gravitate towards one side or another in terms of liking the book or not liking it interestingly enough this is actually one of those rare instances where I feel ambivalent and perhaps if I m being honest not really sure how to react While there were definitely things that I appreciated about this book such as the historical and cultural references which I thought were incorporated seamlessly throughout the story there were an eual amount of things that made the reading experience a bit exhausting than I would ve liked The structure of the narrative is uniue in that even though the main character of the story is Su Lan a Chinese woman who overcomes her village upbringing to become a brilliant physicist we as readers never get to meet this character directly Instead we are given glimpses into Su Lan s life through the recollections of those who had interacted with her or had been a part of her life at some point a nameless nurse at the hospital in Beijing where Su Lan had given birth Zhu Wen who was Su Lan s landlady when she lived in Shanghai and also the last person Su Lan interacted with before leaving China Su Lan s husband Yongzong with whom she had daughter and finally Liya the daughter with whom Su Lan had a strained complicated relationship Through these anecdotal recollections almost all of which were told from each character s first person perspective we are slowly given the various pieces that eventually come together to form an enigmatic portrait of Su Lan s life This narrative structure was indeed interesting however by the end of the story I actually felt confusion rather than clarity as each character seemed to paint conflicting images of Su Lan to the point that despite being told so much about her I still felt like I never really knew herI think the biggest issue I had with this book was the writing which I would describe as being a little too experimental for my tastes I know other reviewers mentioned the lack of uotation marks for all the dialogue which didn t bother me too much actually Instead what didn t work too well for me was the abstract uality of the writing especially with the descriptions of events that took place or things that were happening to the characters I m not sure if I m describing this correctly but it felt almost as though the story and the characters kept shape shifting from one scene to the next For example the scene would be about Liya encountering someone from Su Lan s past and suddenly Liya would become Su Lan wearing the same clothes as her thinking the same thoughts as her but then the next minute she would be Liya again Throughout most of the story it felt like the characters kept jumping in and out of dreams and memories that would get mixed in with their current realities this made trying to follow the story uite a bit difficult than it really needed to be In addition interspersed through the story were mentions about various aspects of science specifically about theoretical physics as it pertains to human behavior the laws of thermodynamics and its relation to time mathematical theory and probability etc all of which went way over my head as I ve never been interested in science or math and so had no clue what any of that stuff was about Thankfully the segments that actually went into detail about the science aspects were few and far between and also relatively brief which made it a tad less tortuous but definitely added to the difficulty in following the storyAlso despite this being a largely character driven story I actually didn t feel much of a connection with the characters even though the fact that we share the same culture should ve made it easier In addition I felt a sense of being emotionally detached from the story and the characters which thinking about it now I m wondering if that was intentional on the author s part given that all the characters themselves seemed to also be emotionally detached from the subject they were reminiscing about Su LanOverall I would say that this was a different reading experience for me It wasn t completely negative of course otherwise my scoring would be lower but I wouldn t say it was hugely positive either While I appreciate what the author was trying to do here and applaud her for breaking from tradition and delivering a well written in the larger scheme of things literary debut that is both uniue and thought provoking I recognize that perhaps I just wasn t the right audience for this book Hopefully the right audience for this book will be able to read and appreciate it better than I have Received ARC from Custom House HarperCollins via NetGalley

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Before she left China and Yongzong the father Liya has never known In this way a portrait of Su Lan emerges an ambitious scientist an ambivalent mother and a woman whose relationship to her own past shapes and ultimately unmakes Liya’s own sense of displacemen. I don t know how to describe Little Gods but I liked it very much Su Lan s story is told by her neighbor friend husband and daughter None of them really has the full picture and even with all of their perspectives she is an enigma This is a puzzling unpredictable novel that pulled me into its orbit It ended leaving me disoriented and uestioning and unexpectedly moved


10 thoughts on “Little Gods

  1. says:

    Really strong idea Strong writing Interesting structure At times I struggled to hold everything together Wanted less narrative distance But still this is an excellent novel Well worth your time

  2. says:

    Giving up at 25% I just can’t seem to connect with the distance I’m feeling from these characters

  3. says:

    As I sit down to write this review I’m struggling a bit because I’m trying to figure out what my feelings are toward this book Normally w

  4. says:

    Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest reviewI have a lot of complicated feelings about this one which always seems to be the case with three star books Little Gods features three main characters who are all connected to a fourth character Su Lan; their perspectives combine to create a portrait of her Zhu Wen lived in the same building as Su Lan in Sh

  5. says:

    Reading Meng Jin’s “Little Gods” was like trying to remember and to note a dream The whole novel felt dream like to me changing in time an

  6. says:

    Overall I liked this book a lot This is Meng Jin’s debut novel so I hope there is of writing to come in the futureYou can get a synopsis of

  7. says:

    This was an elegant story about a young woman trying to understand her parents after her mother’s death She returns to China to also try to find her father The author plays a bit with time and perspective but t

  8. says:

    I don't know how to describe Little Gods but I liked it very much Su Lan's story is told by her neighbor friend husband and daughter None of them really has the full picture and even with all of their perspectives she is an enigma This is a puzzling unpredictable novel that pulled me into its orbit It ended leaving me disoriented and uesti

  9. says:

    With rich attentive writing Meng Jin transports us through both time and territory to late 20th century China in a novel about the complexities of long lost family ties Told as a series of stories about a mother to her daughter from the perspectives of her former neighbor and classmate we follow Liya as she tries to uncover who he

  10. says:

    Meng Jin’s debut novel Little Gods is such a gorgeously constructed story It’s built on a sturdy frame decorated beautifully but it will have some readers scratching their heads saying but what is it? What does it mean

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