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Something Like a House

by Sid Smith

Smith's dispassionate prose tells an extraordinary story, of Jim Fraser, secreted for half a lifetime against his will in a remote valley, throughout the Cultural Revolution. The narrative skips can be initially disconcerting, but the information you need will be supplied later on. This is one where you really need to read it in one or two sessions to preserve the flow.

Extract

He went ashore at the next town and found it crowded with Westerners. They argued in front of tourist hotels, watched from cafes, loitered by racks of postcards - the first whites he had seen in thirty-five years... 'The ancient marvels of an ageless civilization,' said a woman. 'And toilets to go with it.' They drifted away as he watched from a doorway. He was thinking how the Chinese had kept him in a secret valley, and how the child he loved had been killed and her bones stolen. He was whispering to their retreating backs. 'My name is Jim,' he murmured, as they vanished round a corner. 'Jim Fraser. Hello. Call me Jim. I have seen amazing things.'

Parallels

Wild Swans by Jung Chang
  • The Last Emperor (film)
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