Loss and lies in modern China explored in Jan-Philipp Sendker’s rich and resonant novel

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By Mike Cormack

language of solitudeThe Language of Solitude
by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Atria

The Language of Solitude does not start well. Protagonist Paul Leibovitz yearns for his partner, Christine Wu (both return­ing from Sendker’s previous novel, 2015’s Whispering Shadows). He is financially independent, she the manager of a minor travel agency – both live in Hong Kong. In or close to middle age, both enjoy nice things. He aches for her phone calls but hesitates to send text messages, lest he seem needy. Their initial conversations are near comically anxious. Paul is concern that Christine is less enamoured, less immediately comprehending of his needs and emotions than she once was. So far, so inconsequential.

Then things begin to click. The dis­connect between Paul and Christine comes to seem less an entrance to a romcom, where all the narrative intri­cacies could be solved if only the characters would speak to one another, and more a metaphor for how people, and societies, are silenced. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post

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