Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Notes of a Desolate Man” as Want to Read:
Notes of a Desolate Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Notes of a Desolate Man

by
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
...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published October 4th 2000 by Columbia University Press (first published 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Notes of a Desolate Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Notes of a Desolate Man

Green Island by Shawna Yang RyanLast Words from Montmartre by Qiu MiaojinNotes of a Desolate Man by Chu TienwenThe Man with the Compound Eyes by Wu Ming-YiThe Taste of Apples by Huang Chunming
Taiwanese Literature
35 books — 9 voters
Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyLove In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García MárquezKushiel's Dart by Jacqueline CareyRobert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition by Germano CelantI, Claudius by Robert Graves
Nudes
262 books — 48 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nick
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
kyle
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.
Rachel
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
Frederica rated it really liked it
Feb 21, 2008
Judy
Judy rated it really liked it
Feb 26, 2013
Doug Crandall
Doug Crandall rated it really liked it
Sep 09, 2014
Martina Shanelle McArthur
Martina Shanelle McArthur rated it really liked it
Jul 07, 2015
Aries Poon
Aries Poon rated it liked it
Jul 17, 2013
Pongson
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?
alli
May 01, 2007 alli rated it liked it
Shelves: pile-oh-fiction
Painfully post-modern.
Jeff
Jeff rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2011
Christine
Christine rated it it was amazing
Dec 16, 2007
Gus G.
Gus G. rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2013
Cindy
Cindy rated it it was amazing
Jul 07, 2014
Erik
Erik rated it really liked it
Mar 11, 2008
Jonathan
Jonathan rated it really liked it
May 28, 2013
Bingcheng Jiang
Bingcheng Jiang rated it really liked it
Feb 21, 2015
Mihaela
Mihaela rated it really liked it
Jan 11, 2015
Sam Bodary
Sam Bodary rated it really liked it
Dec 25, 2016
Kimah
Kimah rated it liked it
Aug 09, 2007
Leenie
Leenie rated it it was ok
Nov 16, 2012
Yelena Malcolm
Yelena Malcolm rated it really liked it
May 09, 2008
Katie
Katie rated it it was ok
Jun 05, 2010
Nick
Nick rated it it was amazing
Oct 05, 2015
Heather
Heather rated it really liked it
Oct 11, 2008
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Crystal Boys
  • Playing for Thrills
  • Cries in the Drizzle
  • At Your Own Risk
  • Rice
  • A Dictionary of Maqiao
  • Family
  • The Moon Opera
  • Chairman Mao Would Not Be Amused: Fiction from Today's China
  • Red Poppies: A Novel of Tibet
  • The Ancient Ship
  • On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual
  • 呼兰河传 (Chinese Edition)
  • Women Poets of China
  • The Rice Sprout Song
  • Smile As They Bow
  • Serve the People!
  • Northern Girls
3976026
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
More about Chu Tienwen...

Share This Book