Zen Cho's Reviews > The Fall of the Pagoda

The Fall of the Pagoda by Eileen Chang
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Oct 03, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: asia, childhood, written-by-poc, real-people

Eileen Chang is cool! This isn't technically about real people as it's a semi-autobiographical novel, but it's close enough that the tag can stand. I found it interesting that the summary on the back refers to Chang's "selfishly demanding mother" when the monster of the book seems to be her dad.

It was really well written -- intelligent and unsentimental -- and especially interesting for the way Chang reconstructs her own history. I think it's quite transparent where, e.g., she explains the motives of the adults that Lute herself doesn't understand, and talks about what she should have done instead (like with her nurse -- saying she should have given her money when she left, instead of sweets as she did).

I got so furious when her father locked her up! I totally did not expect it, and knowing it was true made it even worse. Wah, how my heart beat when she was escaping; I was terrified that she'd be brought back. I respond very strongly to parental unreliability as a trope in fiction (cf. Diana Wynne Jones's books).
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