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Notes of a Desolate Man
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Notes of a Desolate Man

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  72 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Winner of the coveted China Times Novel Prize, this postmodern, first-person tale of a contemporary Taiwanese gay man reflecting on his life, loves, and intellectual influences is among the most important recent novels in Taiwan.

The narrator, Xiao Shao, recollects a series of friends and lovers, as he watches his childhood friend, Ah Yao, succumb to complications from AIDS
Paperback, 184 pages
Published October 4th 2000 by Columbia University Press (first published 1994)
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Mar 03, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing
Chu T'ien-wen (Zhu Tianwen in the mainland flavor of pinyin)'s extended elegy on longing and loss is a surprisingly powerful book given it's relative brevity. Through the character of Shao, Chu creates a narrative which spans space and time while fluidly crossing between the Sinophone and Anglophone worlds. At the same time, by focusing on Shao and his relationship with his lifelong companion Ah Yao and other men it is also an intensely personal and emotionally moving work. By the end of the nov ...more
Jason Kin Wai Yan
Oct 25, 2015 Jason Kin Wai Yan rated it liked it
As always, Goldblatt's translation is competent. Chu's novel itself has a promising premise, but more often than not it was a struggle to plough through it. Notes of a Desolate Man started off on a strong note, but quickly degenerated into self-indulgent quasi-philosophical prose about seventy pages in and never quite recovered until its conclusion; the text's postmodernist elements register as tiresome and unattractively obvious (and by that, I mean not in a stimulatingly self-reflexive fashion ...more
Feb 24, 2009 kyle added it
Hmm. This took me a while. The narrator was so tiresome, so pedantic, so tortured. The other characters so sketchily drawn. And yet as he thrust himself into pretentious philosophy, pretentious art, and meaningless sex I started to empathize more and more. And I was really impressed that a female Taiwanese writer was able to capture this so vividly. I don't think it's a great book. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. But I'm glad I read it.
John Treat
Feb 28, 2013 John Treat rated it liked it
This is a tough read-- postmodern, drawing on a knowledge of traditional and contemporary Asia as well as the West, that perhaps few readers possess. but it is well worth the trouble. It is the story of three+ Taiwanese gay men, told by an inventive and insightful woman novelist. AIDS is there but it does not dominate the narrative-- love, of various sorts and intensities, does. Read this and CRYSTAL BOYS to get an idea of Taiwan and just how queer it is.
Jan 15, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: taiwan
At times I really liked the themes of this book (mortality, meaning, social connections etc) but at other times I struggled to maintain interest in what occasionally felt like rambling disconnected thoughts. 3.5 stars
Matthew Gallaway
Sep 21, 2010 Matthew Gallaway rated it it was amazing
Interesting, densely written exploration of a gay man's relationships with his dying friend and current partner. Very poetic/post-modern.
Frederica rated it really liked it
Feb 21, 2008
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Feb 26, 2013
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Sep 09, 2014
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Aries Poon rated it liked it
Jul 17, 2013
Pongson rated it it was amazing
Jul 12, 2016
Jesse Field
Jul 03, 2011 Jesse Field rated it it was ok
Shelves: 926fultonsunroom
Really didn't like this when I first read it. Re-read in Chinese?
May 01, 2007 alli rated it liked it
Shelves: pile-oh-fiction
Painfully post-modern.
Jeff rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2011
Christine rated it it was amazing
Dec 16, 2007
Gus G.
Gus G. rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2013
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Jul 07, 2014
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Mar 11, 2008
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Feb 21, 2015
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Jan 11, 2015
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Aug 09, 2007
Leenie rated it it was ok
Nov 16, 2012
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Jun 05, 2010
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Oct 05, 2015
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Chu Tien-wen (Chinese: 朱天文; pinyin: Zhū Tiānwén; born August 24, 1956 in Taipei, Taiwan) is one of Taiwan's most prominent writers. She is the daughter of Chu Hsi-ning and the older sister of Chu Tien-hsin. Some of her literary works include "Fin-de-Siècle Splendour" (1990) and Notes of a Desolate Man 荒人手記 (1994). She wrote many of the scripts for the famous Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien. Her ...more
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