Jennifer Reese
October 17, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Girl Who Played Go

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Shan Sa
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

In this dreamy yet powerful novel set in ’30s Japanese-occupied Manchuria, a Chinese schoolgirl escapes both her adolescent romantic tribulations and violent political upheavals by playing go, the ancient Asian board game, in a public square. She excels at the meditative game, and is drawn into a long-running match with an anonymous young Japanese soldier. Their peaceful, almost wordless interactions appear in stark contrast to the noisy, increasingly bloody battles. Despite some lyrical excesses and a slow start, this unlikely love story (gracefully translated from French by Adriana Hunter) is beautiful, shocking, and sad.

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