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The Man with the Compound Eyes

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,023 ratings  ·  151 reviews
On the island of Wayo Wayo, every second son must leave on the day he turns fifteen as a sacrifice to the Sea God. Atile'i is one such boy, but as the strongest swimmer and best sailor, he is determined to defy destiny and become the first to survive.

Alice Shih, who has lost her husband and son in a climbing accident, is quietly preparing to commit suicide in her house by
ebook, 304 pages
Published August 29th 2013 by Vintage Digital (first published 2011)
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,023 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Larnacouer  de SH
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bu puanı veriyorum ama aslında beklediğim kadar etkileyici bulmadım ben. Hikaye çok kopuktu, karakterler arasında bağlantı kuramadım okurken.

Sanırım her şey etkileyici girişin suçu. Yani gerçekten! Harika bir giriş, idare eder bir gelişme, iyi bir sonuç okudum.

Ve her şeye rağmen yazarın dili öyle keyifli ki sanırım bu puanı vermemin esas nedeni o. Çünkü daha aşağısı içime sinmeyecekti, ama bu puanı verecek kadarda beğenmedim bilmiyorum ya iyisi mi uzakdoğu edebiyatı severler bir şans versin ben
Expect some magic and references to be lost in translation, as the book is originally written in Mandarin.

I found myself translating English back to Mandarin at some points and found the writing rather poetic. Even so, I appreciate the translation choices, most of which kept the references and/or lyrical nature of the writing. The book can get quite didactic at some points, but bearably so.

The immersive and lyrical writing transported me into a world of magical realism, and I returned to my own
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I discovered his eyes weren't like human eyes. They were more like compound eyes composed of countless single eyes, the eyes of clouds, mountains, streams, meadowlarks and muntjacs, all arranged together. As I gazed, each little eye seemed to contain a different scene, and those scenes arranged to form a vast panorama the likes of which I had never seen.

I was dismayed when I read an article the other day about the Man Booker International Prize committee's decision to bow to Chinese diplomatic
Virginia Woods-jack
I started this book with an excited curiosity and this continued throughout the book. The intertwining story lines and the non linear weaving of memories providing beautifully detailed back stories for every character introduced alongside the progression of the story line had me hooked. This book is about passion and loss on so many levels. Loss of self, loved ones, traditions, identity, nature, ways of life and life itself. The raw and complex beauty of this book really captured me, there are e ...more
Bülent Özgün

Söyleyeceğim çok şey var ama şimdilik:


İnsanın içine işleyen bir roman. Kimi bölümleri büyülü gerçeklikle bezenmiş, sanki çok kadim hikayeler anlatılıyor, öylesine etkileyici. Kimi bölümlerinde sanki hayatınızdan parçalar alınıp sunuluyor, öylesine gerçekçi ve vurucu. Sonra bu iki gerçeklik birbiriyle kesişiyor ve her şey iki kat güzelleşiyor.

Çok sevdim, vuruldum.
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway which did not influence my review.

This was a difficult book for me to both read and review because while the message the author wished to convey had great merit, I can't say I enjoyed reading it very much. It was a lot of work, getting through this book, especially the first half when seemingly unrelated characters and their stories had yet to converge. Adding to the difficulty was the flatness of these characters who all talked in the same way, regardles
Linda Robinson
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well now. This novel is a dream on different planes of existence. As a scifi book, it's quirky and has the gift of touching a serious subject with a wink behind a hand. As a young woman's story, it is heartfelt, lonely, personal, sorrowful and warm. As a young man's story: the same. I read this novel as a true book lover deep in the story an author has presented; inches from the text thinking I could remember whole sentences, paragraphs, pages. I relish total textual immersion novels, and this i ...more
Set in Taiwan in the immediate future, The Man with the Compound Eyes is an allegorical tale, exploring issues of loss, loneliness, memory, identity, culture, communication, ecology and interdependency via the cleverly interwoven journeys of characters from diverse cultural backgrounds. Whilst the overall story is contemporary, it is heavily infused with elements of myth and legend, both traditional and, I suspect, freshly imagined. Beautifully written, with fantastic visual imagery and characte ...more
Full Stop
Jun 09, 2014 added it
Shelves: spring-2014
The Man with the Compound Eyes – Wu Ming-Yi

by Hestia Peppe

[Pantheon; 2014]

Tr. Darryl Sterk

“My father said there were two things in the world that would never change,” says Dafu, an aboriginal boy doomed never to be a hunter, “the mountains and the sea.”

This world is warming. I’ve known that since I saw it on the news aged six and cried the night away until my father promised me membership to Greenpeace. In the quarter-century since then, what has been done to solve this problem has been, in shor
Sep 11, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book. On the one hand there was some beautiful, elegaic language (props to the translator as well, perhaps) and the sense of injustice and the importance of issues such as environmentalism and understanding the fierce detrimental affect man has on the earth, the sea and nature - as well as issues of indigenous peoples and maintaining their culture and identity - was very well expressed and heart-wrenching at times. This felt incredibly important and the ...more
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This achingly beautiful—and achingly tragic—book saw me through some many weeks of laziness in my reading. Despite finding my way through very slowly, with one or two week-long breaks, I never felt lost when I returned to the book. The stories that make up this novel might lend themselves to being read fragmentally, but (having finally reached the end myself!) I would recommend reading it over the space of a week, if you have that luxury.

Wu Ming-Yi pours astonishing detail into a Taiwan where hu
Maggie Tidwell
Sep 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Is it just me? I don't usually finish a book with such feelings of confusion and frustration but this book has me baffled. The horrors of man's abuse of the earth and sea are meticulously described in this book and easy enough (if painful) to grasp and mourn. It is the plot and characters' actions I had trouble understanding. There are some fascinating characters in this story (but too many as one reviewer stated) and I cared about what happened to them. The problem was, I could never figure out ...more
Eh. This book seemed choppy, and it's hard to tell how much of that is a problem of translation. Certain lines would reappear in altered form pages later, the dialogue wasn't that interesting, and there were a few instances of jarring perspective shift.
Beyond sentence level issues, this book didn't really seem to know how realist it wanted to be. I'm always curious to read books that self-identify as environmental fiction, and I wish there was a better way to write crisis/environmentally minded
Te-yuan Huang
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Love the book. The background is my father's beautiful hometown - Hualien county in Taiwan. Love how the aboriginal culture and people that are so familiar to me being very beautifully written into words. Love the author's story telling style -- nonlinear yet very easy to follow. Love the imagination and the relationship between human-to-human and human-to-nature in this book. It's a book that makes me miss home so badly, highly recommended!
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mind- and genre-bending journey into our imminent future--one where the environment seems to be rebelling against the human species--paradoxically led by a cast of deeply human, remarkably tender souls whose lives intersect in the most uncanny of ways. The translation leaves something to be desired but also enhances the strangeness of this world, and invites us to reconsider our relationships with the place we call home, and the people with whom we make our homes.
Moushine Zahr
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
It was difficult book for me to read, rate and review. There is so much to talk about. There are several levels of readings.

It looks like the author created a fantasy island Wayo Wayo living secluded, in the past, and naturally in one world, which comes in collision with another world against a real life contemporary Thailand through the two leading characters Atile'I and Alice and through a Trash Vortex. Unless the island is just a last undiscovered island ignored by the rest of the world. I c
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This didn't live up to its premise or my hopes for it. It devolved into a soapbox about the need to reduce the environmental footprint and the arrogance of our lifestyles (and then, oddly, brought in a theme out of nowhere about the nature of memory in order to resolve the most realized storyline). There were too many characters, many of whom were introduced because their backstory was useful to the author's agenda, despite the fact that they contributed nothing to the plot. I'm an environmental ...more
Scout Maria
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and strange. I get the impression that the book was let down a bit by its translation, since the phrasing was occasionally kind of stilted. However it was still quite enjoyable and had some moments that really moved me. Nonlinear magical realism done with a deft touch.

"At first she couldn't understand anything i said, but gradually we have come to recognize the scales and tails of speech, to realise the fish eyes of what the other is saying."
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Te voy a recomendar este libro. Y eso que me parece de ejecución un poco floja, con un final que debería estar en los manuales de editores como ejemplo de 'y ahí el editor tenía que haber pedido que se reescribiera todo'. Sin embargo es una novela de ecoscifi inteligente, con montones de información sobre Taiwán y un muy buen comienzo.
György Szabó
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nagyon tetszett, tipikusan az a könyv, amit bárkinek ajánlanék, viszont minél kevesebbet mondanék el róla előre, hogy ne lőjek le semmit.
Emma Jane
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and quiet. I can't possibly begin to explain how wonderful this book is. You just have to read it yourself and find out.
Claudia Piña
Qué bello y mágico, debe ser hermoso en el idioma original.
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is billed as a coming together of an island woman and an island boy, who alter each other's lives forever. The physical driving force is a tsunami in the Pacific. However this coming together does not happen until half way through the book.

This book has rich character development, but is slim on plot. This is not a criticism, just an observation. If you want an action adventure, this book will leave you wanting. If you enjoy well developed characters, this book is for you.

Now to the cr
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it
I’m not quite sure what to think about ‘The Man with the Compound Eyes’. It took me a while to get into, possibly because I found the translation slightly awkward and stilted. Also, the narrative is highly non-linear, jumping between different points of view and time periods. It seemed to read more like a series of vignettes than a cohesive novel. On the other hand, the overarching themes of environmental disaster and the past catching up with the present gathered it together somewhat. I think t ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books, fiction
This last paragraph from the inner dust jacket is an eloquent single-sentence description: "A work of lyrical beauty that combines magical realism and environmental fable, The Man with the Compound Eyes is an incredible story about the bonds of family, the meaning of love, and the lasting effects of human destruction." I wish rating by half-stars would be allowed because this is definitely a 4.5. The only qualm is with the loose threads at the end - characters which had been skillfully construct ...more
Shannon Kelleher
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was recommended to me with the warning 'it's different, don't know if you'll like it'. I'll be honest, for the first half of the book, I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not. The writing is good, if sometimes slow. Having recently read The Three Body Problem, I was concerned that the story wouldn't 'get anywhere' or go circular which was one of my big problems with the Three Body Problem. The last third of the book, really brings everything together, confirms and changes some of the reader ...more
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Yorumun aslı ve devamı Yorum Cadısı'nda.

Başlarda biraz sıkılsam da, bir yerden sonra kitap beni içine çekmeyi başardı; sayfaları merakla çevirdim. Kurgunun alışkın olmadığım, farklı bir havası vardı; bu hava sayesinde, sıkıldığım kısımlarda bile kitaba devam etmeyi başardım. Aynı türe ait, aynı konuya sahip kitapları okumaktan sıkıldıysanız Petekgözlü Adam tıpkı benim olduğu gibi sizin de dinlenme durağınız olabilir ;)
Yet another braided narrative. I'm longing for a story with a constant protagonist. This book was hard to follow. There were quite a few important characters. I had some trouble keeping the various aboriginal Formosan characters straight, because the names were unfamiliar to me.

There were some really lovely passages. Since this was in translation, this may hint that reading this book is a different experience in its original language.

Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit to being a bit obsessed about Taiwan but here's another good one based on the island. This book leaves you with a lot of emotion. Mostly sadness about the state of our environment but also fondness for storytelling and the role of storytelling in cultures. Recommend.
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
My review at The Rumpus:
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Writer, painter, designer, photographer, literary professor, butterfly scholar, environmental activist, traveler and blogger rolled into one, Wu Ming-Yi is very much a modern Renaissance Man. Over the last decade, he has produced an impressive body of work, especially with his fiction and nature writing.

Wu Ming-Yi (b.1971) studied advertising at Fu-Jen Catholic University and has a PhD in Chinese
“So this was what a mountain was like, the same as a person: the more you know, the less you fear.” 5 likes
“In all honesty, I don’t envy you the possession of this power over memory, nor do I admire you. Because humans are usually completely unconcerned with the memories of other creatures. Human existence involves the willful destruction of the existential memories of other creatures and of your own memories as well. No life can survive without other lives, with the ecological memories of other living creatures have, memories of the environments in which the live. People don’t realize they need to rely on the memories of other organisms to survive. You think that flowers bloom in colorful profusion just to please your eyes. That a wild boar exists just to provide meat for your table. That a fish takes the bait just for you sake. That only you can mourn. That a stone falling into a gorge is of no significance. That a sambar deer, its head bent low to sip at a creek is not a revelation . . . When in fact the finest movement of any organism represents a change in an ecosystem.” The man with the compound eyes takes a deep sign and says: “But if you were any different you wouldn’t be human.” 5 likes
More quotes…