She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Shelly Parker-Chan’s novel of yearning and becoming carried me along effortlessly. The prose transports the reader from one idea and image to the next with a simple clarity of purpose. If the reader is looking for soaring prose that plays with images, meaning and meter, they might wonder why all the praise.
They would be looking for the wrong element. Rather than expecting prose that climbs into violet shaded hues, here the author relies on a simplicity as bare as the parched yellow dirt of Zhu’s village.
The beauty of the prose is in its spare elegance. While simple it is in no way simplistic and far from sterile or barren. Parker-Chan creates fascinating characters filled with desire and audacity.
Wanting is central to the story of Zhu. It is her desire that shifts the world-not only her own barren childhood but the influence of her intense desire to be, to have a fate, a great future draws in and reshapes the fates of everyone around her.
The reader is left to decide if Zhu has ultimately attained her fate–or if she has made it manifest from her will alone.