Peacock Cries by Hong Ying

Peacock Cries

Hong Ying

Set in China, Liu takes leave of her life of academia to pursue the notion that her husband is committing adultery. Her destination: the Yangtze River where the construction of the Three Gorges Dam is in progress. Although not a 'gripping' story, it's an easy read and the flashbacks to her parents' and their friends' lives does make for interesting reading. You'll get a real feel for the location and the landscape as well as an insight into China'a customs, history and day to day life. Well worth a read.

Extract

From the pole hung a man and a woman; both were completely naked. They made a grotesque picture: they'd been tied to the pole in contorted positions in the manner that peasants in the mountainous area of Sichuan had long displayed adulterous couples. This ultimate humiliation was only inflicted upon offending couples if their families and clan leaders all agreed to it.
Their arms and legs were spread out and tied back to back: Red Lotus' left arm was bound to Yutong's right arm, and Yutong's left arm was bound to Red Lotus' right arm. The thick bamboo pole went in between their backs, forcing their bodies into an uncomfortable arch that exposed their genitals for all to see. As their bound legs dangled in mid-air, their tortured expressions revealed their suffering with horrific intensity.

Parallels
  • Before the Deluge: The Vanishing World of the Yangtze's Three Gorges by Deirdre Chetham
  • Wild Swans by Jung Chang