The Incarnations: A Novel

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Driver Wang is unhappy. Though he loves his wife and daughter, the long, mindless hours of driving his taxi and the unrelieved monotony of his days cause him to feel he is living his life while asleep. Then Wang finds a letter telling the tragic history of an estranged father and daughter who lived in the time of the Tang Dynasty, AD 632. This is the story of Wang’s first life, the writer claims, and purports to be the long-ago daughter. The writer has been watching Wang, has been watching Wang’s family, and will be writing more. Frightened and disturbed, Wang questions friends and acquaintances, searching for the letter-writer, but “history is knocking for [him]” and Wang cannot escape.

With The Incarnations, Barker spins two tales: one follows the progress of an average man with a long-lived soul, while the other describes the violent and fraught history of China. The two are so skillfully twined that it is difficult to separate the two. Like Wang, I found myself pursued by the relentless and inevitable force of the narrative, while being horrified by the violence he can’t seem to escape. Are these stories true? Are all of Wang’s lives destined to end in disaster?


Reviewed By:

Author Susan Barker
Star Count 3.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher Touchstone
Publish Date 2015-Aug-18
ISBN 9781501106781
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue November 2015
Category Modern Literature
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