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Novella set in China

8th October 2019

The Phoenix and the Crow by Graham Sage, novella set in China.

Novella set in China

This is a book published by award winning Monsoon Books. Their strapline is “Explore Asia with Monsoon Books” and therefore we love to feature titles from them!

The Phoenix and the Crow is a delightful novella, short, well written and engaging. Wang Bin is an ornithologist who makes his way from Beijing to Pingyang to see if he can spot the Mountain Phoenix. As soon as he has checked into his hotel, he incurs the wrath of the hotel manager who in turn informs on him to Pingyang’s chief of police, Han San Xi, a corrupt and sadistic bully: Had Han San Xi been a good man he would doubtless have done great things for Pingyang. The path he had chosen, however was one of corruption and self-enrichment.

It is of course set against Mao’s despotic rule and with the running theme of birds in the book, it is frightening to learn that millions of sparrows were systematically killed across the country, part of The Four Pests Campaign (the other creatures to be annihilated were rats, mosquitoes and flies).

With the support of the darling receptionist at the hotel and his pet crow, Confucius, Wang Bin settles on a plan – not to get even (Chief Han did sequester his gold watch and money to feather his own nest) – but to ensure justice is done and release the locals from Han San Xi’s tyrannical rule. This involves a cunning and curious plan as he once again returns from Beijing to Pingyang.

The Phoenix and the Crow is well crafted, a short fable of morality and corruption in 20th Century small town China. Prescient for the politics unfolding across the world in the 21st Century.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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