In a remote Manchurian town in the 1930s, a sixteen-year-old girl is more concerned with intimations of her own womanhood than the escalating hostilities between her countrymen and their Japanese occupiers. While still a schoolgirl in braids, she takes her first lover, a dissident student. The more she understands of adult life, however, the more disdainful she is of its deceptions, and the more she loses herself in her one true passion: the ancient game of go.
Incredibly for a teenager-and a girl at that-she dominates the games in her town. No opponent interests her until she is challenged by a stranger, who reveals himself to us as a Japanese soldier in disguise. They begin a game and continue it for days, rarely speaking but deeply moved by each other's strategies. As the clash of their peoples becomes ever more desperate and inescapable, and as each one's untold life begins to veer wildly off course, the girl and the soldier are absorbed by only one thing-the progress of their game, each move of which brings them closer to their shocking fate.
In The Girl Who Played Go, Shan Sa has distilled the piercing emotions of adolescence into an engrossing, austerely beautiful story of love, cruelty and loss of innocence.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Measured . . . Precise . . . The historical backdrop, itself a forceful character, provides a compelling context for this economical story of impossible love."-Sara Ivry, "San Francisco Chronicle" "Spare prose adorned with images that linger in the mind . . . In this elegant translation . . . the dreamlike, mesmerizing alternation of voices stands in uneasy contrast to the operatic violence of the plot."-Janice P. Nimura, "New York Times Book Review""What makes Sa's novel so satisfying is the deceptive simplicity of her narrative strategy . . . We watch in fascination as the terrible secrets of their lives begin to coincide."-Charles Matthews, "San Jose Mercury News""Shan manipulates the scope of silence with a wisdom beyond her years."-Elsa Gaztambide, "Booklist""Dreamy . . . powerful . . . this unlikely love story . . . is beautiful, shocking, and sad."-Jennifer Reese, "Entertainment Weekly""Lovely and delicate as a carved jade flower . . . This is beautiful writing."-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal""Harrowing . . . While exploring epic themes like the loss of innocence and the meaning of honor, it lingers on the tiny, exquisite details of life in a remote, cosmopolitan Manchurian town in the thirties."-Elizabeth Schmidt, "Vogue" "From the Hardcover edition."