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by Ma Jian,Flora Drew
Download Beijing Coma fb2
World Literature
  • Author:
    Ma Jian,Flora Drew
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  • Publisher:
    Vintage Canada; 1 edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Pages:
    592 pages
  • Subcategory:
    World Literature
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Part of what gives its highly energized, manic edge is the fierceness of Ma Jian's conviction that it might be possible for a work of literature to function as a lifeline to cast out into the world

Part of what gives its highly energized, manic edge is the fierceness of Ma Jian's conviction that it might be possible for a work of literature to function as a lifeline to cast out into the world. A courageous and clarion writer.

Beijing Coma is a 2008 novel by Ma Jian. It was translated from Chinese by Flora Drew. The Chinese government has since banned the book

Beijing Coma is a 2008 novel by Ma Jian. The Chinese government has since banned the book. Ma has stated that he wrote the book "to reclaim history from a totalitarian government whose role is to erase it" and named the novel Beijing Coma in reference to this. Beijing Coma was nominated in 2009 for the Man Booker Prize and is one of the New York Times "100 Notable Books of 2008".

Beijing Coma (Paperback). Ma Jian (author), Flora Drew (translator). Beijing Coma is a poetic examination not just of a country at a defining moment in its history, but of the universal right to remember and to hope. It is, in every sense, a landmark work of fiction" - Tash Aw Daily Telegraph "A huge achievement.

Ma Jian, Flora Drew (Translator). Old Opinion from 2013: Ma Jian's Beijing Coma is probably one of the best novels I have read this year. It is so beautifully written, and haunting.

Dai Wei has been unconscious for almost a decade  . Ma Jian, Flora Drew (Translator).

Translated by Flora Drew. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

There are descriptions of Dai Wei’s medical predicament that convey with great visceral force the harrowing experience of being locked in an unresponsive body, and there are evocative glimpses of the new China beginning to spread its economic wings at the end of the 1990s. But such passages are wedged between pages and pages of tedious and repetitious exchanges between poorly defined friends from Dai Wei’s past. Translated by Flora Drew.

Ma Jian; Translated by Flora Drew. Part of what gives its highly energized, manic edge is the fierceness of Ma Jian's conviction that it might be possible for a work of literature to function as a lifeline to cast out into the world

Ma Jian; Translated by Flora Drew. Part of what gives its highly energized, manic edge is the fierceness of Ma Jian's conviction that it might be possible for a work of literature to function as a lifeline to cast out into the world.

by Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew. 592pp, Chatto & Windus, £1. 9. Those volatile weeks form the principal subject of Ma Jian's monumental new novel, Beijing Coma, splendidly translated by Flora Drew. The 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square were a study in seething unpredictability. Its title and guiding metaphor, though, come from the aftermath: the systematic erasure of the event from public consciousness as the hardliners in the government consolidated their victory.

Knopf Canada is proud to welcome to the list one of the world’s most significant living writers. Spiked with dark wit, poetic beauty and deep rage, Beijing Coma is the epic new novel from prize-winning author Ma Jian. It is his masterpiece. “One of the most important and courageous voices in Chinese literature.” Gao Xingjian, winner of the Nobel Prize in LiteratureDai Wei is a medical student and a pro-democracy protestor in Tiananmen Square in June of 1989. Caught by a soldier’s bullet, he falls into a deep coma; as soon as the hospital authorities discover he is an activist, his mother is forced to take him home. She allows pharmacists access to Dai Wei’s body and sells his urine and his left kidney to fund special treatment from Master Yao, a member of the outlawed Falun Gong sect. But during a government crackdown, the Master is arrested and Dai Wei’s mother–who has fallen in love with him–loses her mind.The millennium draws near and Dai Wei has been in a coma for almost a decade. A sparrow flies through the window and lands on his naked chest; it is a sign that Dai Wei must emerge from his dry cocoon. But China has also undergone a massive transformation in the time that he has been absent. As he prepares to take leave of his old metal bed, Dai Wei realizes that the rich, imaginative world afforded to him as a coma patient is a startling contrast with the death-in-life of the world outside.“At the heart of Ma Jian’s stories there is both humanity and a piercing, if painful, literary truth.” The Guardian (UK)From the Hardcover edition.

Beijing Coma is at once a detailed history of the run up to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, a tragic story about sympathetic characters and an unflinching attack of the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party.

The conscious but paralysed protagonist, being unable to speak of his experiences is of course an allegory for the status of the victims of the crackdown – wounded, or worse, yet unable to speak about it – and the narrative paints a powerful picture of this event that is at once so hugely significant in the history and development of contemporary China yet also absolutely unmentionable in public discourse. Another example of an event so important being so unmentionable is arguably impossible to find in the world.

However, this story can really bum you out at times particularly so as it is based on real events, even though the thoughtful political timeline (going all the way back to the Cultural Revolution) and various insights along with a few peculiar descriptions of sex serve as a distraction from the crushing sadness of the narrative. But then I suppose that when faced with something as depressing as the Liu-si incident and the subsequent repression that followed it, this is the appropriate tone.
After being hit by a soldiers bullet in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, PhD student Dai Wei falls into a coma only to awaken ten years later in what is a very different China. While new freedoms have been won, the Communist Party will still not tolerate criticism and is ready to crack down on both real and perceived threats to its rule - "same as the old boss."

The book drags at times (after all, dude's in a coma) but is a very worthwhile read, especially for a gweilo like me whose only real exposure to the Tiananmen uprisings was through newspapers and news reports. Beijing Coma: A Novel is a perfect companion read to Zhao Ziyang's Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang. It is a beautifully written book and I will definitely read more by Ma Jian.
This was a very strange book, but then all of Ma Jian's books, even his memoir Red Dust are out there on the edge. The premise was an interesting one- tell the story of 1989 from inside the head of one of its victims, now in a coma. I have read a lot of books on 20th century Chinese history, and even though this book was fiction, much of the picture of Tiananmen Square rang true. I found it fascinating how petty the student leaders became at times in this story. If this was in fact a somewhat accurate depiction, it adds to the real story of what happened. Ma Jian is a good storyteller, and even though this was a long book with a lot of characters and sub-plots, I enjoyed it immensely. Highly recommended.
Sadly I have to agree with many of the reviews. I say sadly because the story had a lot of potential, but it is so detailed that it becomes unbearable. After 200 pages or I dont know how many going on and on about the students discussions and daily arguments, I had the impression I was not advancing into the book. Sadly I had to quit. I cannot bear the thought of 300 pages more on the same...
Small Black
Ma Jian's Beijing Coma was a really enlightening novel. I learned so much about China- the good and the bad. This novel exposed me for the first time to the horrifying Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square massacre- really important events that no one bothered to teach in high school history. What you find in this book will alternatively inspire and infuriate you, and at no time will Ma Jian leave you feeling apathetic.
The writing in this novel is unique. The narration is delivered with a certain sparsity and emotionless quality, but is occasionally punctuated with incredibly poignant and striking images and revelations that take you aback and force you to pause and reflect. The novel reminds me a bit of the fiction of Sartre and Camus, but with distinguishing elements that are Ma Jian's own.
In any case, the novel is brilliant. Read it. It is an accessible opportunity to experience the richness of another culture's literature.
Too long and too detailed. Editor, editor, where's the editor.?
This novel presents the history of modern China in grim detail, especially through the horrors suffered by the narrator's family. Its account of the Tiananmen square uprising is probably a bit detailed for most readers, but overall the novel conveyed powerfully the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution and the youth experience at the time of Tiananmen Square. I found the story of the narrator's mother's decline particularly moving.
It tells an entertaining and pretty unbelievable story. My wife, who is from Mainland China, tells me that the stories told about in the book, as disgusting as they might be, are completely true. Well worth reading for anyone interested in the recent history of China.