Asian Review: "Running through Beijing"
The author Xu Zechen was unknown to me, but he comes with something of a pedigree. He is editor at People’s Literature magazine and was selected for the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.
And this is a fine novel. One need not know or care more about Beijing to appreciate the humanity of its characters nor to be propelled through the story than one needs to know or care about the St. Petersburg of Dostoevsky. The foreignness of the setting and situation rapidly fades into the subconscious. I suspect, although one never knows, that the translator Eric Abrahamsen is to thank for at least of some of this. Abrahamsen has, through simplicity of language and use of terms like “the rat bastard” managed to retain a slight foreignness of tone, while delivering a fluent English text.
It’s a cliché to say that a novel deserves to be read. But if Running Through Beijing is read, it is likely to be enjoyed.