The Last Quarter of the Moon

Chi Zijian

The Last Quarter of the Moon

'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. 4.2 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
The Last Quarter of the Moon

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 320
RRP
Date of Publication January 2013
ISBN 978-1846554810
Publisher Harvill Secker
 

'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.

Reviews

The Times

Kate Saunders

Zijian has an extraordinary gift for storytelling and her steely narrator is a true heroine, surviving war and encroaching modernity. Simply magnificent.

19/01/2013

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The Financial Times

Kelly Falconer

The story is full of allegory. There is the fire that is passed from one generation to the next; the cycles of life and death; and the “coexistence of mankind and the Spirits”. The clan’s reindeer are central to their lives and “were certainly bestowed upon us by the Spirits, for without these creatures we would not be”. Chi channels, Shaman-like, the sentiment, emotions and experiences of another, much older woman (Chi was born in 1964).

18/01/2013

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The Independent

Lucy Popescu

Chi Zijian's beautifully realised novel offers a detailed portrait of a way of life hard to imagine today. The narrator comes from a long lineage of clan chieftains and, through her recollections, we follow the decline of the Evenki. Apart from her grandson, the rest of her family have reluctantly agreed to leave their nomadic lifestyle and settle in the local town ... It was surely no easy task to make this ancient, wise narrator sound convincing in English. Bruce Humes's skilful translation is pitch-perfect.

01/02/2013

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The Independent on Sunday

Daniel Hahn

The Last Quarter of the Moon is about a life, and a lifestyle, as distant from ours as you can imagine; and entirely different from what English-readers might have come to expect of a Chinese novel. But the story is masterfully told, with simplicity and empathy, in a direct and credible voice that not only feels unlike a translation, but unlike a fiction at all.

03/02/2013

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