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The Uninvited - Geling Yan

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Geling Yan / Paperback / 276 Pages / Book is published 2006-11-02 by Faber and Faber

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      05.06.2009 19:28
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      An interesting read, although not everyone's cup of tea.

      I saw this books whilst browsing the reduced section in W H Smiths and was immediately intrigued. Granted it helped that it was down to 99p, but even so there was something about the cover that made me wonder exactly what this was.

      From the title, the reader would be fooled into thinking this must be some kind of Chinese horror tale of spirits and possession - survey says "uhuh" you're wrong. The blurb on the back of the book really doesn't give much away, instead it describes food presented in a restaurant as if they were works of art. This sets the scene beautifully for the tale of wealth and corruption versus poverty and struggling.

      The story is set in China, at the beginning of the 21st century, and follows Dan Dong, a poor factory worker, as he accidently enters the world of the press. Mistaken for a journalist, he finds he can make some money and eat the most exquisite food China has to offer just by handing over a fake business card. The tale follows this life he creates, as he discovers secrets he can't share and a world he never knew about.

      I had never encountered this author before, and read the book mostly out of intrigue. It was a bit slow to begin with, however it soon drew me in. The banquets are described with such detail and precision as to make you wish you were there eating peacock and jellyfish with him. With the developing story came twists and turns, branches off and soon the banquets are merely a side part of Dan's life - the tale becomes one of conflict and fear. It reflects a side of China - the conflict between the rich city men and the poor country boys.

      I wouldn't call this a classic, but the book is well written and thought provoking. The story is easy to follow, and not as predictable as you may think at first. I'm not sure how well I really liked the ending - I devoured most the last third of the book, and the final "scenes" seemed a little rushed. However, it was a good read, slightly unusual and worth a look if you happen to come across it.

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