Magazine article New Internationalist

Beijing Coma

Magazine article New Internationalist

Beijing Coma

Article excerpt

Beijing Coma by Ma Jian Translated by Flora Drew (Chatto & Windus, ISBN 9780701178079)

The Chinese writer Ma Jian is probably best known for his 2001 travelogue Red Dust. His other books include Stick Out Your Tongue, a story collection about Tibet which the authorities promptly banned, and which led to his eventual exile. In his latest novel Beijing Coma, Ma Jian has undertaken his most ambitious project yet; a sweeping panorama of China in the years before and after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989. The focus of the novel is on Dai Wei, one of the student activists who occupied the Square demanding democracy and reform from the sclerotic communist regime. As the protests grow and students and workers flock to the Square, Dai Wei and his comrades argue and debate about everything, setting up and disbanding ad hoc committees in an attempt to prevent the movement losing momentum. …

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