05 May, 2014

The man with the compound eyes by Wu Ming-Yi (Anita, Blockhouse Bay)

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This is a strange tale that vacillates between science and myth. On Wayo-Wayo, an uncharted, floating Pacific Island, second sons are destined to canoe into the sea to die. Such is the fate of gifted son Atile'i. But as death approaches, he lands on an immense floating island of trash. In the meantime in Taiwan, Alice is coping (or not) with the loss of her family.  Several narratives from different characters alternate throughout this book but blend into the one story.

Things I really enjoyed in this book were descriptions of life in Taiwan from various points of view, especially weaving into the story characters who belong to some the original aboriginal tribes of Taiwan, (who predated the Han Chinese). It also prompted me to actually google about the Pacific trash vortex which features in the book - now this is a truly awful man-made disaster zone.  It saves Atile'i and then the part of it he is on ends up colliding with Taiwan, which causes huge environmental issues. Atele'i encounters Alice which changes both of their lives, however I found the ending a bit unresolved: the story had charm but left me wanting more.  Let me know what you think.

Title: The man with the compound eyes
Author: Wu Ming-Yi ; translated from Taiwanese by Darryl Sterk.
Publisher:  London : Harvill SeckerISBN: 9781846556715 (trade)
Publication date: 2013

 


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