Chi Zhijian was about the most interesting of the Chinese writers who popped up at the London Book Fair last year (where China was featured country and in the usual style muffed it completely with their handlers heavy-handedness). Her novel, The Last Quarter of the Moon, is now out in English and well worth a read….
‘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’.
At the end of the twentieth-century an old woman sits among the birch trees and thinks back over her life, her loves, and the joys and tragedies that have befallen her family and her people. She is a member of the Evenki tribe who wander the remote forests of north-eastern China with their herds of reindeer, living in close sympathy with nature at its most beautiful and cruel.
An idyllic childhood playing by the river ends with her father’s death and the growing realisation that her mother’s and uncle’s relationship is not as simple as she thought. Then, in the 1930s, the intimate, secluded world of the tribe is shattered when the Japanese army invades China. The Evenki cannot avoid being pulled into the brutal conflict which marks the first step towards the end of their isolation…
In The Last Quarter of the Moon, prize-winning novelist Chi Zijian, creates a dazzling epic about an extraordinary woman bearing witness not just to the stories of her tribe but also to the transformation of China.