Diane's Reviews > Beijing Coma

Beijing Coma by Ma Jian
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's review
Jul 19, 10

bookshelves: fiction, china-chinese
Read from June 30 to July 19, 2010

A long and difficult book. The story is told by a young man in a coma from being shot in the head during the June 4, 1989 Tianamen square student demonstrations and goes back and forth between his life as a "vegetable," his earlier life, and the Tianamen Square student demonstrations from April 17 to June 4. The student demonstrations are told in minute detail from the point of view of the organizers.

I slowly became aware of several things. (1)At first I was amazed at the petty bickering among the students and the vying for political power. THey mouthed democracy but seemed to have no idea what it meant - however, they soon sounded like the US Senate. (2)At first I wanted Dai Wai to wake up. As the book progresses I began to think he was better off in a coma. (3)There was a whole lot more about the student demonstrations than I wanted to know.

I ended up skimming rather than reading the student protest sections. Nice little gem embedded in the story: at one point the students talk about a book that has been banned - it is the author's book.
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