Monday, 10 June 2013
Book Review: The Last Quarter of the Moon by Chi Zijian
The story begins with the tribe voting whether to settle in a village nearby or whether to continue their nomadic lifestyle.
We never find out the main characters age, but know that she is an elderly woman telling her story. She has a peaceful childhood which ends in the 1930's when the Japanese army invades China. Her tribe cannot avoid being involved in the war which forces them to take steps to becoming less isolated. I really enjoy historical books so this was a major seller for me when deciding to pick this up.
This book began beautifully. Here's an excerpt:
'A long time confidante of the rain and snow, I am ninety years old. The rain and snow have weathered me, and I too have weathered them. Nowadays the summer rains are more and more sporadic, the winter snows lighter by the year. They're like my roe-deerskin under-bedding, which has shed it's hairs from constant rubbing. It's thick undercoat has vanished with the wind, leaving behind scars accumulated over many moons. Seated on the deerskin, I'm like a hunter watching over a salt lick, but rather than deer with their beautiful erect horns, fierce winds swirling with sand awaits me.'
I loved the narrative- it made me feel as if I was sitting around a campfire listening to old stories. The way Chi describes nature is so beautiful and calming. She has a way of capturing what we feel and putting it into words.
This novel had a slightly tragic feel to it while also reminding us of the beauty of the simple things in life. I can't fault anything about this book. It is a eye-opening read and one which I thoroughly enjoyed.