Half of Man is Woman is considered a very controversial book in China as it focuses on the labour camps Zedong set up during the sixties and also the novel features some sex scenes – which was unheard of at the time.
The book is about the author, who is a wrongly accused political prisoner, and his experience as a rice cultivator and a shepherd during Chairman Mao’s reign. However instead of descending into a litany of tortures and hardships Xianliang takes a different aspect and that is maintaining a serious relationship with someone in a camp.
When Xianlaing first sets his eyes on Huang he immediately falls in love with her and after an eight year gap he marries her, unfortunately the marriage does not work out due to the fact that he has been ingrained in the camp system for so long that nothing else seems to interest him, despite his wife’s efforts he does get a divorce.
Half of man is Woman is a political novel – but it goes on such a different tangent you’d mistake it for an overly dramatic love story, but through this catastrophic relationship Mao is clearly the one being criticised.
Personally I liked the book but I must admit the translation wasn’t too great and bothered me at times. Sayign that the content is so powerful that you do get sucked into the book. Anyway I haven’t read many Chinese authors so my second foray into their lit wasn’t a bad one at all.