Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2013, pt. 3: Ursula K. Le Guin

Wu Ming-Yi, a name to remember 
by Ursula K. Le Guin 

Harvill Secker in England has published, and Random House in NY will publish in May, a novel called The Man with the Compound Eyes -- a klunk of a title, unlikely to attract even sf readers.

The author, Wu Ming-Yi, is well known in his native Taiwan, but this is his first appearance in English. So the book’s starting out here with a lot of strikes against it, not least its defiance of genre, mixing near-future sf, anthropological fantasy, real tribalism, romance, adventure, realism, to arrive at a visionary apocalypse via tidal waves of garbage -- oh, the damn thing is indescribable! It’s informed, accurate, fiercely imaginative, and deeply adult in its understanding of how humans connect and misconnect with one another and other beings on our vulnerable Earth. It’s uneven, but some of the trouble may be in the translation, or in our unfamiliarity with the Taiwanese mindset – exhilaratingly different, on this evidence, from Mainland Chinese.

The book is beautiful, and daring, and though utterly unsentimental, full of human tenderness. I think a lot of people who read this blog will will find it to their liking. If you order it (not through amazondotcom, please?) from England, you will get a fine dust-jacket with whales, turtles, mountains, and a cat riding the styrofam tsunami.

Ursula K. Le Guin has written many, many books and won many, many awards. At 82, she makes awesomeness look wonderfully easy. Aqueduct Press published her collection of essays, Cheek by Jowl, in 2009 and 80! Memories and Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin, a collection honoring her 80th birthday, edited by Karen Joy Fowler and Debbie Notkin. Last spring Aqueduct published Gheorghe Sasarman's Squaring the Circle: A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony, which she translated. She blogs at Book View Cafe.

No comments: