Author(s): Shan Sa
Set in Japanese-occupied Manchuria in the 1930s, "The Girl who Played Go" is a haunting tragedy, a shocking tale of love and war reflected in the age-old game of go. In the Square of a Thousand Winds, snow falls as a sixteen-year-old Chinese girl beats all-comers at the game of go. One of her opponents is, unknown to her, a young Japanese officer of the occupying power, rigidly militaristic, imbued with the imperial ethic, but far from home and intrigued by this young opponent. Their encounters are like the game itself, restrained, subtle and surprisingly fierce. But as their two stories unfold, the Japanese army moves inexorably through their huge land, in the vanguard of a greater war, leaving blood and destruction in its wake.
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"Measured . . . Precise . . . The historical backdrop, itself a forceful character, provides a compelling context for this economical story of impossible love."
-Sara Ivry, "San Francisco Chronicle"
"Spare prose adorned with images that linger in the mind . . . In this elegant translation . . . the dreamlike, mesmerizing alternation of voices stands in uneasy contrast to the operatic violence of the plot."
-Janice P. Nimura, "New York Times Book Review
"What makes Sa's novel so satisfying is the deceptive simplicity of her narrative strategy . . . We watch in fascination as the terrible secrets of their lives begin to coincide."
-Charles Matthews, "San Jose Mercury News
"Shan manipulates the scope of silence with a wisdom beyond her years."
-Elsa Gaztambide, "Booklist
"Dreamy . . . powerful . . . this unlikely love story . . . is beautiful, shocking, and sad."
-Jennifer Reese, "Entertainment Weekly
"Lovely and delicate as a carved jade flower . . . This is beautiful writing."
-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal
"Harrowing . . . While exploring epic themes like the loss of innocence and the meaning of honor, it lingers on the tiny, exquisite details of life in a remote, cosmopolitan Manchurian town in the thirties."
-Elizabeth Schmidt, "Vogue
"From the Hardcover edition."
Shan Sa was born in 1972 in Beijing. She left China for France in 1990, studied in Paris and worked for two years for the painter Balthus. Her two previous novels were awarded the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman and the Prix Cazes.