Non Fiction

Distant Sunflower Fields by Li Juan

Translated by Christopher Payne

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Still available on NetGalley as of the writing of this post

I am conflicted about how to express my experience with this book. It is a fascinating narrative (of the author’s life), but it took me a long, long time to get to grips with the timing of the tale. There is a back and forth which goes on for quite a while till I was properly confused. The author spent a lot of time with her mother, some in the city and other parts travelling elsewhere. These are not chronologically placed, but even for artistic merit, I would have hoped for an alternating between city and current, but we only end up in a linear story by the time we reach the end.
This is all just how the content was placed. The individual chapters were unique and very colourful, and the translation seemed pretty well done. We have a family (or parts of it at a time) leading a life that seems unimaginable while reading it in a cozy room with things available on-demand or with a flick of a switch. She talks of her mother’s fortitude, focus and stubbornness. At no time, even when she is most frustrated, do you ever question the fact that she likes her mother.
The life of a farmer in a remote location of the globe, with questionable facilities and changing company every season, forms the book’s bulk. It provides a window into this completely different culture and all the weight that it holds. I just wish it had been easier to follow!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley, the review is entirely based on my own reading experience of this book.

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