Muted lives and brutal truths

The Vagrants By Yiyun Li Fourth Estate, €15.60

21st February, 2009

Beijing-born Yiyun Li is already being compared with the likes of controversial Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. Initially it’s hard to see why - news has yet to break of Li’s novel inciting any criminal cases or political backlash.

But upon sinking into the quagmire of Li’s imagined 1979 Chinese town of Muddy River - a depressing, state-designed industrial village where children subsist on rotten vegetables and a young woman...

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