Magazine article World Literature Today

A Perfect Crime

Magazine article World Literature Today

A Perfect Crime

Article excerpt

Fiction A Yi. A Perfect Crime. Anna Holmwood, tr. London. Oneworld. 2015. 210 pages.

Doused in blood and gushing with ethical conundrums, A Yi's A Perfect Crime is a disconcerting medley of misanthropy, escapism, and media monstrosities. Woven from tales garnered in the author's previous career in law enforcement, Yi's psychological insights are frequently bookended by realistic renditions of urban China's legal processes. Where Anthony Burgess sought to conjure a world of abstract flair and inexplicable cruelty in A Clockwork Orange, Yi strikes a far deeper chord, delving into the mind of a youth whose lethal motivations are abundantly and undeniably troubling.

Ensnared by a cycle of frustration brought on by his condescending aunt and apathetic mother, a high school student determines homicide to be his only feasible release. After gathering his supplies from a cast of disagreeable shopkeepers, the untrained execution of the teen's gruesome task suggests that his plans of indefinite retreat may be little more than distant pipe dreams. Compounded by unforeseen variances, the youth pushes through China's densest cities, periodically catching glimpses of himself on televisions and bulletin boards.

Yi's narrator presents the steepest initial hurdle in A Perfect Crime. His early resolve to kill someone (though at that point he's unsure who) is difficult to chew on. His plans to kill his elder neighbor's dog and brief jabs at the homeless and greedy are repulsive but feel significantly less engaging than they are intriguing. …

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