China tale offers rich bounty

China tale offers rich bounty

130329 12
Harvest Season focuses on a little-known China, one with social and sexual freedoms. Photo Supplied

Chris Taylor is an old China hand, but he’s written a novel that turns many of the usual clichés about China on their heads. Far from being a turgid recitation about the country’s economic miracle and its attendant problems, Harvest Season focuses on the China that few of us know about, one of social and sexual freedoms that exist away from the centres of the command economy, and Taylor’s book is far more interesting for that.

Set in a bucolic little village, probably in Yunnan province, Matt, the Western narrator, is simply hanging around, wasting his life on drink and drugs, when Alex turns up, planning on opening a guesthouse for jaded and drug-addled Westerners. With Alex comes the mysterious A-hong, a Chinese woman who Matt falls for, hard.

The novel follows Matt, Alex, A-hong, Fei-fei and a number of other characters, both Western and Chinese, as they alternately party and fight while more Westerners appear in town, including a clueless bunch of New Age travellers who call themselves the Family of Light, and proceed to cause chaos by ignoring the delicate balance between Chinese and Western culture.

Eventually, the chaos bubbles over into the death of one of the characters, Chinese culture reasserts itself, and some sort of order is restored. But it is an order that has less of the Western, and more of the Chinese characteristics to it, so it feels in many way like a defeat. The valley that the village sits in is less pristine, less adventurous than before, and all the poorer for it.  

Harvest Season has echoes of both The Beach and Lord of the Flies, and is sumptuously written, with passages of great beauty. Taylor is a talented writer, and reveals to us a China most people have no idea exists, one full of both personal freedoms and personal responsibilities. Apparently Taylor is working on a second novel: I’ll be awaiting it with interest.

Available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,