Zhang Yueran: 九栋 (Cocoon)

The latest addition to my website is Zhang Yueran‘s 九栋 (Cocoon). The book is narrated by Li Jiaqi and Cheng Gong. They had not met for eighteen years, when they were eleven and close friends.They tell their stories in alternating chapters. Li Jiaqi had returned to look after her dying grandfather, a former heart surgeon. Cheng Gong is still living in the same place with his unmarried aunt as he was was eighteen years ago. We learn that things have not gone well for either of the two nor for their families. Cheng Gong’s father is in prison, Li Jiaqi’s dead. Both our protagonists are alcoholics and neither have had particularly successful careers nor successful relationships. We gradually learn their stories and, in particular, that there is a hidden secret or secrets which have scarred the lives of our narrators, their families, one other family (all over three generations) as well as several other people. The details gradually come out, both what actually happened and how these various people were affected. Zhang cleverly builds up the story and the lives of the people affected.

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