Ingratitude Review

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Ingratitude ReviewBy the end of the first page of this novel, you know that the narrator has recently committed suicide. From there, the story is a series of flashbacks leading up to her death and flash forwards to the funeral and beyond. It's a short novel written in short chapters composed of short sentences (almost devoid of adjectives). It's an example of a Chinese genre of film and fiction in which family members are speechless in their fury with each other for failing to live up to the others' idiosyncratic expectations, usually starting with a parent who feels that their children are their property and shouldn't have minds of their own. (It's not that there's necessarily a higher proportion of Chinese families like this than in any other culture. It's that these have become stock characters in the Chinese media.)
To be honest, I find myself almost completely indifferent this piece. It's competently done, but it doesn't provoke any significant reaction. It's just there. I've known families like this. This does an okay job of describing them. Just okay. And the characters are too mean-spirited to identify with, and there isn't the madness of, say, Dostoevsky's characters, so there's no pull on those fronts. Then from another angle, the prose is too flat to make the style distinctive. Finally, it probably goes without saying that if the narrator starts off dead, there isn't going to be much suspense. In the end, there just isn't anything to justify reading this instead of the tens of thousands of other novels that have been written.
The one interesting passage is as follows:
At least Mother had been gracious to Chun. She could be gracious to everyone except the members of her own family. With them she thought politeness would be hypocritical and beside the point; her severity and slight cruelty were necessary, in fact, and constituted solid proof of her love.Ingratitude Overview

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