Stephen Durrant's Reviews > My Life as Emperor

My Life as Emperor by Su Tong
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Aug 29, 2010

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Read in August, 2010

The author rejects the idea that "My Life as an Emperor" is a historical novel even as he admits that he attempts "to penetrate the millenia of Chinese history" (author's preface). The narrator is a deposed emperor of a mythical kingdom who as a child inherits the throne, somewhat surprisingly and unwillingly, at the death of his father. The palace in which he is something of a prisoner swirls with intrigue and violence, and he is completely dominated by his grandmother and mother, who are bitter rivals with one another. So many of the tensions that dominate the palace will be familiar to any student of Chinese history and present considerable fodder for a discussion of the Chinese past. But, reader be warned: Su Tong paints a cruel picture that will raise uncomfortable questions about the relationship between modern China and its imperial past. One easily comes to identify with the young emperor's wish to escape it all . . . to become a tight-rope walker, who strides high above a world that is just too terrible to want close at hand.

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message 1: by Karen (new)

Karen I took this book along with a few others with me on vacation and never got to it. I am starting it today. I live in China and the relationship you describe between the mothers is common place here. Thanks for the insight.

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