Kinder than Solitude
Paperback $24.99 - HarperCollins Publishers
Fiction - Published: 1/Mar/2015 - ISBN: 9780007303137
The new novel from Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants and the Guardian First Book Award-winning A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. In 1993, Chu, an eighteen-year-old college student in Beijing, became mysteriously ill; within days she was in a coma. Shao, a childhood friend who was an engineering major in college, snuck into his professor's laboratory and composed an SOS message on one of the few computers in the country that had Internet connection. Within twenty-four hours hundreds of people around the world replied to the message, and of the emails that provided diagnosis, 80% decided that Chu was poisoned with thallium, a lethal heavy metal. Chu's life was saved, but when she recovered from the coma five months later, her brain was permanently damaged. The police soon decided it was a case of attempted murder. Muyan, Chu's best friend, was listed as the only suspect, yet no charge was filed against her, as her grandfather was an influential figure in the central government. The case remained unresolved, but, publicized as a case of successful tele-medicine in the Internet age, it drew wide attention and inspired several thallium poisoning cases in the following years. The novel opens eighteen years later. Chu remains in the care of her aging parents, with the intelligence level of an eight-year-old. She remembers little of her history, and is not aware that for the past five years there has been an Internet manhunt to reveal the identity of her assailant, as the case had been officially closed and files of the investigation destroyed. The novel follows three characters involved in the manhunt: Lun, who has become a regular visitor to Chu's family and who eventually takes over the responsibility of Chu's care after her parents' deaths; Shao, who saved Chu's life once through the Internet and who believes that the Internet was the only way to bring justice; and Wen, Muyan's husband, who had chosen to believe in Muyan's innocence and who is hoping to restore his reputation. The narrative follows the three men's quests; a story of truth and deception, facts and fabrications, love and honour.
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