Little Gods Review ↠ 2

Meng Jin ✓ 2 Free read

Before she left China and Yongzong the father Liya has never known In this way a portrait of Su Lan emerges an ambitious scientist an ambivalent mother and a woman whose relationship to her own past shapes and ultimately unmakes Liya’s own sense of displacemen With rich attentive writing Meng Jin transports us through both time and territory to late 20th century China in a novel about the complexities of long lost family ties Told as a series of stories about a mother to her daughter from the perspectives of her former neighbor and classmate we follow Liya as she tries to uncover who her mother really was The neighbor Zhu Wen lived next door to Liya and her mother Su Lan when they lived in Shanghai Her classmate Yongzong was an academic rival of Su Lan’s as teenagers who knew her well into young adulthood Both of these people had complicated relationships with Liya’s mother and ended up being formative in one another’s lives than any of them could have imagined There’s not a lot of storyline to give away; most of the narrative is in the past tense being recounted by one person to another The biggest plot points take place during the Tiananmen Suare demonstrations and the student led democracy protests act as a backdrop to the events of the book This works well with the family conflicts surrounding Liya and Su Lan but also are significant moments in China’s history that the state refuses to acknowledge today The portions I found the most difficult to get through concerned Yongzong and whatever bullshit he was doing It’s becoming harder and harder for me to empathize with emotional mediocre men who blame and use women to cover up their own failings The fact that so much was familiar in him just highlights how common it is for women to pander to the petty whims of supposed “good” men I’ll admit to skimming parts of his explanationsI liked this book a lot overall especially Jin’s writing I’m a sucker for a good roving perspective so this was right up my alley It’s not a fast paced book and I can see how some readers might not appreciate the meandering storytelling the author prefers here I can’t give this higher than four stars even though there’s not anything wrong per say Just a bit slow and not a lot actually well happens The ending is pretty bleak too The final chapter entitled ‘ The Beginning’ is an unnecessary point to finish on; I’d recommend skipping it But Meng Jin writes lovely the cover is gorgeous and I’d definitely want to read from her Beneath the Earth emerges an ambitious scientist an ambivalent mother and a woman whose relationship to her own past shapes and ultimately unmakes Liya’s own sense of displacemen With rich attentive writing Meng Jin transports us through both time and territory to late 20th century China in a novel about the complexities of long lost family ties Told as a series of stories about a mother to her daughter from the perspectives of her former neighbor and classmate we follow Liya as she tries to uncover who her mother really was The neighbor Zhu Wen lived next door to Liya and her mother Su Lan when they lived in Shanghai Her classmate Yongzong was an academic rival of Su Lan’s as teenagers who knew her well into young adulthood Both of these people had complicated relationships with Liya’s mother and Gagged ended up being formative in one another’s lives than any of them could have imagined There’s not a lot of storyline to give away; most of the narrative is in the past tense being recounted by one person to another The biggest plot points take place during the Tiananmen Suare demonstrations and the student led democracy protests act as a backdrop to the Aristocrats events of the book This works well with the family conflicts surrounding Liya and Su Lan but also are significant moments in China’s history that the state refuses to acknowledge today The portions I found the most difficult to get through concerned Yongzong and whatever bullshit he was doing It’s becoming harder and harder for me to A Dark and Twisted Tide (Lacey Flint, empathize with Wild Horses (Saddle Club, emotional mediocre men who blame and use women to cover up their own failings The fact that so much was familiar in him just highlights how common it is for women to pander to the petty whims of supposed “good” men I’ll admit to skimming parts of his At Sixes And Sevens explanationsI liked this book a lot overall Save Rafe! (Middle School especially Jin’s writing I’m a sucker for a good roving perspective so this was right up my alley It’s not a fast paced book and I can see how some readers might not appreciate the meandering storytelling the author prefers here I can’t give this higher than four stars The Hand That First Held Mine even though there’s not anything wrong per say Just a bit slow and not a lot actually well happens The Ghost Light ending is pretty bleak too The final chapter LDN Graffiti entitled ‘ The Beginning’ is an unnecessary point to finish on; I’d recommend skipping it But Meng Jin writes lovely the cover is gorgeous and I’d definitely want to read from her

Summary Ö PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ✓ Meng Jin

Little Gods

On the night of June Fourth a woman gives birth in a Beijing hospital alone Thus begins the unraveling of Su Lan a brilliant physicist who until this moment has successfully erased her past fighting what she calls the mind’s arrow of timeWhen Su Lan dies unexpe Giving up at 25% I just can’t seem to connect with the distance I’m feeling from these characters

Review Little Gods

Ctedly seventeen years later it is her daughter Liya who inherits the silences and contradictions of her life Liya who grew up in America takes her mother’s ashes to China Liya’s memories are joined by those of two others Zhu Wen the woman last to know Su Lan Overall I liked this book a lot This is Meng Jin’s debut novel so I hope there is of writing to come in the futureYou can get a synopsis of the book from Goodreadsthe one thing that I liked was her description of certain concepts of physics The passage of time we normally think of as moving one way and she discussed through physics that is not necessarily so She did not use high faluting terms so as to discombobulate the reader who does not have a degree in physics The layout of the novel is first person narrative of different protagonists with one protagonist having one chapter and another protagonist having a different chapter It for the most part works out well What I also liked the character of Su Lan pretty much the main protagonist of the book I expected her at a certain point in the book to act in a certain way and she did notI was thrown for a loop like who I did not see that coming but the way Meng Jim wove the story plot it made a great deal of sense I would say in the first third of the book I was enthralled and relishing every word practicallythe rest of the book was very good indeedit’s just that I thought the first sections of the book were stellarHere are some passages of the book that grabbed me• After enrolling in and dropping out of a number of universities she finally gave up trying to earn a PhD Academia was too stiff she said too invested in it sown accolades too worshipful of tradition Especially in science which was supposed to be a revolutionary field all ambitions had been drained; the only new ideas that could be accepted were specialized to the point of losing significance What she was offering would be a paradigm shift it would reuire entire textbooks to be rewritten told by Liya Su Lan's daughter JimZ so what grabbed me about this passage was the term “paradigm shift” There is a classic book written for folks who are interested in science but are not necessarily scientists about paradigm shifts Thomas Kuhn wrote it in 1962 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions University of Chicago Press We have to remember that there are few certitudes in sciencea theory can be over turned and long held beliefs can be stood on their head But it is hard to do given scientists who adhere to the theories and beliefs can stake their livelihood and their careers on such and it can be their stubbornness which can prevent fresh and new ways of looking at things to be seriously entertained that might threaten their theories and beliefs and with that their careers and livelihoods • Modern courtship was silly whimsical almost certainly to yield disappointment It was simpler to treat a spouse as you did your own body something given If you were lucky you could learn to love it If you could not you lived with it told by Zhu Wen Su Lan's neighbor who babysat Liya• After eight and a half months of pregnancy I still couldn’t understand She had not wanted a child She had not wanted to leave behind any part of her biology to perpetuate herself into the future A perfect life she’d said is lived and then it disappears told by YongZong Su Lan's husband• In the universe there exist objects that cannot be seen or have not been seen black holes undiscovered planets massive presences of gravity that assure us of their existence simply by the way they affect the behavior of nearby lesser objects This according to my mother was the measure of an object something that exerts substantial influence over others in its field drawing continually toward itself even if ever so lightly In some ways this evidence of effects is necessary than sight An image alone could be merely a hologram a vision No scientifically speaking seeing or not seeing is not euivalent to making be or not be Rather it is the inevitab


10 thoughts on “Little Gods

  1. says:

    Really strong idea Strong writing Interesting structure At times I struggled to hold everything together Wanted less narrative distance But still this is an excellent novel Well worth your time


  2. says:

    Giving up at 25% I just can’t seem to connect with the distance I’m feeling from these characters


  3. says:

    As I sit down to write this review I’m struggling a bit because I’m trying to figure out what my feelings are toward this book Normally when I read a book I will either gravitate towards one side or another in terms of liking the book or not liking it – interestingly enough this is actually one of those rare instances where I feel ambivalent and perhaps if I’m being honest not really sure how to react While there were definitely things that I appreciated about this book – such as the historical and cultural references which I thought were incorporated seamlessly throughout the story there were an eual amount of things that made the reading experience a bit exhausting than I would’ve liked The structure of the narrative is uniue in that even though the main character of the story is Su Lan a Chinese woman who overcomes her village upbringing to become a brilliant physicist we as readers never get to “meet” this character directly Instead we are given glimpses into Su Lan’s life through the recollections of those who had interacted with her or had been a part of her life at some point – a nameless nurse at the hospital in Beijing where Su Lan had given birth; Zhu Wen who was Su Lan’s landlady when she lived in Shanghai and also the last person Su Lan interacted with before leaving China; Su Lan’s husband Yongzong with whom she had daughter; and finally Liya the daughter with whom Su Lan had a strained complicated relationship Through these anecdotal recollections almost all of which were told from each character’s first person perspective we are slowly given the various “pieces” that eventually come together to form an enigmatic portrait of Su Lan’s life This narrative structure was indeed interesting however by the end of the story I actually felt confusion rather than clarity as each character seemed to paint conflicting images of Su Lan to the point that despite being told so much about her I still felt like I never really “knew” herI think the biggest issue I had with this book was the writing which I would describe as being a little too “experimental” for my tastes I know other reviewers mentioned the lack of uotation marks for all the dialogue which didn’t bother me too much actually Instead what didn’t work too well for me was the abstract uality of the writing especially with the descriptions of events that took place or things that were happening to the characters — I’m not sure if I’m describing this correctly but it felt almost as though the story and the characters kept “shape shifting” from one scene to the next For example the scene would be about Liya encountering someone from Su Lan’s past and suddenly Liya would become Su Lan wearing the same clothes as her thinking the same thoughts as her but then the next minute she would be Liya again Throughout most of the story it felt like the characters kept jumping in and out of dreams and memories that would get mixed in with their current realities – this made trying to follow the story uite a bit difficult than it really needed to be In addition interspersed through the story were mentions about various aspects of science – specifically about theoretical physics as it pertains to human behavior the laws of thermodynamics and its relation to time mathematical theory and probability etc – all of which went way over my head as I’ve never been interested in science or math and so had no clue what any of that stuff was about Thankfully the segments that actually went into detail about the science aspects were few and far between and also relatively brief which made it a tad less tortuous but definitely added to the difficulty in following the storyAlso despite this being a largely character driven story I actually didn’t feel much of a connection with the characters even though the fact that we share the same culture should’ve made it easier In addition I felt a sense of being emotionally detached from the story and the characters which thinking about it now I’m wondering if that was intentional on the author’s part given that all the characters themselves seemed to also be emotionally detached from the subject they were reminiscing about Su LanOverall I would say that this was a “different” reading experience for me It wasn’t completely negative of course otherwise my scoring would be lower but I wouldn’t say it was hugely positive either While I appreciate what the author was trying to do here and applaud her for breaking from tradition and delivering a well written in the larger scheme of things literary debut that is both uniue and thought provoking I recognize that perhaps I just wasn’t the right audience for this book Hopefully the “right” audience for this book will be able to read and appreciate it better than I have Received ARC from Custom House HarperCollins via NetGalley


  4. says:

    Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest reviewI have a lot of complicated feelings about this one which always seems to be the case with three star books Little Gods features three main characters who are all connected to a fourth character Su Lan; their perspectives combine to create a portrait of her Zhu Wen lived in the same building as Su Lan in Shanghai and helped her raise her infant daughter Yongzong went to school with Su Lan and later married her leaving her on the day of their daughter’s birth And Liya is Su Lan’s only child who spent most of her life in America but returns to China with her mother’s ashesThe characters were easily what I liked best about this book; they were complex and realistic and sympathetic and flawed I appreciated the deep dive into the three main characters’ lives Over the course of this short book I came to understand their histories motivations and personalities surprisingly intimately Learning about Su Lan through their eyes with only their memories and impressions of her and no insight into her innermost thoughts and feelings was fascinating It makes you wonder what people think about you and what they’ll remember about you after you’re goneThere were a few things that bothered me about the writing style the lack of uotation marks to indicate when characters are speaking the use of second person language when Zhu Wen or Yongzong referred to Liya Nothing I thought was objectively bad but things that subjectively just weren’t to my taste I always prefer when authors stick to the traditional way of writing rather than getting all experimental which distracts from the story Maybe that’s why literary fiction isn’t my favorite genre In addition the brief explanations of the theoretical physics concepts that Su Lan studied were over my head Little Gods navigates the relationships between people friends husbands and wives mothers and daughters It seamlessly explores themes of immigration disability grief memory revolution and the forward movement of time I’m torn between three and four stars because I wasn’t consistently drawn into the story and for the most part found it easy to put down although there were points especially toward the end when it succeeded in making me feel very strongly


  5. says:

    Reading Meng Jin’s “Little Gods” was like trying to remember and to note a dream The whole novel felt dream like to me changing in time and place “Little Gods” is a story of an impoverished young Chinese girl who breaks out of her destitution by scoring well on a national exam Because of her scores she is able to receive a government sanction education She finds her passion in math Her high academic scores allow her to go to Beijing University and study Physics Her passion narrows to the timespace continuumThis girlwoman is Su Lan and the novel is her story There are three narrators in the novel each provide their impressions of Su Lan There is her neighbor Zhu Wen her husband Yongzong and her daughter Liya Liya comes to China from her American University after Su Lan dies unexpectedly Liya’s upbringing is painful to read Su Lan was mostly harsh to her daughter if she noticed her at all Liya wants to understand her motherAfter reading the novel I still don’t understand Su Lan Perhaps I got too caught up in the dream like state of the narrative There is much uantum physics and theoretical physics The jumps in the story and the nonlinear lines of storytelling were too much for me to remain engaged I finished it but I’m not sure what Jin tried to illuminate


  6. says:

    Overall I liked this book a lot This is Meng Jin’s debut novel so I hope there is of writing to come in the futureYou can get a synopsis of the book from Goodreadsthe one thing that I liked was her description of certain concepts of physics The passage of time we normally think of as moving one way and she discussed through physics that is not necessarily so She did not use high faluting terms so as to discombobulate the reader who does not have a degree in physics The layout of the novel is first person narrative of different protagonists with one protagonist having one chapter and another protagonist having a different chapter It for the most part works out well What I also liked the character of Su Lan pretty much the main protagonist of the book I expected her at a certain point in the book to act in a certain way and she did notI was thrown for a loop like who I did not see that coming but the way Meng Jim wove the story plot it made a great deal of sense I would say in the first third of the book I was enthralled and relishing every word practicallythe rest of the book was very good indeedit’s just that I thought the first sections of the book were stellarHere are some passages of the book that grabbed me• After enrolling in and dropping out of a number of universities she finally gave up trying to earn a PhD Academia was too stiff she said too invested in it sown accolades too worshipful of tradition Especially in science which was supposed to be a revolutionary field all ambitions had been drained; the only new ideas that could be accepted were specialized to the point of losing significance What she was offering would be a paradigm shift it would reuire entire textbooks to be rewritten told by Liya Su Lan's daughter JimZ so what grabbed me about this passage was the term “paradigm shift” There is a classic book written for folks who are interested in science but are not necessarily scientists about paradigm shifts Thomas Kuhn wrote it in 1962 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions University of Chicago Press We have to remember that there are few certitudes in sciencea theory can be over turned and long held beliefs can be stood on their head But it is hard to do given scientists who adhere to the theories and beliefs can stake their livelihood and their careers on such and it can be their stubbornness which can prevent fresh and new ways of looking at things to be seriously entertained that might threaten their theories and beliefs and with that their careers and livelihoods • Modern courtship was silly whimsical almost certainly to yield disappointment It was simpler to treat a spouse as you did your own body something given If you were lucky you could learn to love it If you could not you lived with it told by Zhu Wen Su Lan's neighbor who babysat Liya• After eight and a half months of pregnancy I still couldn’t understand She had not wanted a child She had not wanted to leave behind any part of her biology to perpetuate herself into the future A perfect life she’d said is lived and then it disappears told by YongZong Su Lan's husband• In the universe there exist objects that cannot be seen or have not been seen black holes undiscovered planets massive presences of gravity that assure us of their existence simply by the way they affect the behavior of nearby lesser objects This according to my mother was the measure of an object something that exerts substantial influence over others in its field drawing continually toward itself even if ever so lightly In some ways this evidence of effects is necessary than sight An image alone could be merely a hologram a vision No scientifically speaking seeing or not seeing is not euivalent to making be or not be Rather it is the inevitable attraction and movement of that which surrounds a mass that secures its position among real things told by Liya Su Lan's daughterHere are some reviews good review a review by Gish Jen


  7. says:

    This was an elegant story about a young woman trying to understand her parents after her mother’s death She returns to China to also try to find her father The author plays a bit with time and perspective but these aspects weren’t as fully developed as I would have liked Actually a lot of the book could have been fleshed out but I really liked the writing and the concept for the story 35⭐️


  8. says:

    I don't know how to describe Little Gods but I liked it very much Su Lan's story is told by her neighbor friend husband and daughter None of them really has the full picture and even with all of their perspectives she is an enigma This is a puzzling unpredictable novel that pulled me into its orbit It ended leaving me disoriented and uestioning and unexpectedly moved


  9. says:

    With rich attentive writing Meng Jin transports us through both time and territory to late 20th century China in a novel about the complexities of long lost family ties Told as a series of stories about a mother to her daughter from the perspectives of her former neighbor and classmate we follow Liya as she tries to uncover who her mother really was The neighbor Zhu Wen lived next door to Liya and her mother Su Lan when they lived in Shanghai Her classmate Yongzong was an academic rival of Su Lan’s as teenagers who knew her well into young adulthood Both of these people had complicated relationships with Liya’s mother and ended up being formative in one another’s lives than any of them could have imagined There’s not a lot of storyline to give away; most of the narrative is in the past tense being recounted by one person to another The biggest plot points take place during the Tiananmen Suare demonstrations and the student led democracy protests act as a backdrop to the events of the book This works well with the family conflicts surrounding Liya and Su Lan but also are significant moments in China’s history that the state refuses to acknowledge today The portions I found the most difficult to get through concerned Yongzong and whatever bullshit he was doing It’s becoming harder and harder for me to empathize with emotional mediocre men who blame and use women to cover up their own failings The fact that so much was familiar in him just highlights how common it is for women to pander to the petty whims of supposed “good” men I’ll admit to skimming parts of his explanationsI liked this book a lot overall especially Jin’s writing I’m a sucker for a good roving perspective so this was right up my alley It’s not a fast paced book and I can see how some readers might not appreciate the meandering storytelling the author prefers here I can’t give this higher than four stars even though there’s not anything wrong per say Just a bit slow and not a lot actually well happens The ending is pretty bleak too The final chapter entitled ‘ The Beginning’ is an unnecessary point to finish on; I’d recommend skipping it But Meng Jin writes lovely the cover is gorgeous and I’d definitely want to read from her


  10. says:

    Meng Jin’s debut novel Little Gods is such a gorgeously constructed story It’s built on a sturdy frame decorated beautifully but it will have some readers scratching their heads saying but what is it? What does it mean? And that is to say that it is mysterious clever thought provoking and may leave you with several uestionsSu Lan is a brilliant physicist with an eye always to the future Liya is gifted with language and searches for answers about her mother’s past That’s all you need to know about this novel It is the marriage of science and language the meeting of past and future And though this novel featured less hard science than I’d expected up until the final moments it never ceased to be intelligent Eually the lush language and the perfectly joined story elements came together into a story was that altogether very moving Little Gods is a poetic and intellectual debut that may have a little trouble finding its audience It’s one for those who don’t mind having to put some thought into their read but who also hope to experience emotion Personally I’d recommend it to readers of Light from Other Stars and Asymmetry Thanks to HarperCollins for providing an advanced copy through Goodreads Giveaways


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