The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa

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The Girl Who Played Go may perhaps be a little formal, a little too freighted by symbolism to be the same sort of success in the UK that it has been in France. But there is a lovely reversal at the end of the novel.
-Guardian

Synopsis

In a remote Manchurian town in the 1930s, a sixteen-year-old girl is more concerned with intimations of her own womanhood than the escalating hostilities between her countrymen and their Japanese occupiers. While still a schoolgirl in braids, she takes her first lover, a dissident student. The more she understands of adult life, however, the more disdainful she is of its deceptions, and the more she loses herself in her one true passion: the ancient game of go.

Incredibly for a teenager–and a girl at that–she dominates the games in her town. No opponent interests her until she is challenged by a stranger, who reveals himself to us as a Japanese soldier in disguise. They begin a game and continue it for days, rarely speaking but deeply moved by each other’s strategies. As the clash of their peoples becomes ever more desperate and inescapable, and as each one’s untold life begins to veer wildly off course, the girl and the soldier are absorbed by only one thing–the progress of their game, each move of which brings them closer to their shocking fate.

In The Girl Who Played Go, Shan Sa has distilled the piercing emotions of adolescence into an engrossing, austerely beautiful story of love, cruelty and loss of innocence.
 

About Shan Sa

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Shan Sa was born in 1972 in Beijing. In 1990 she left China for France, where she studied in Paris and worked for two years with the painter Balthus. Her two previous novels were awarded the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman and the Prix Cazes.
 
Published January 1, 2003 by Knopf. 340 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Geraldine Bedell on Jun 01 2003

The Girl Who Played Go may perhaps be a little formal, a little too freighted by symbolism to be the same sort of success in the UK that it has been in France. But there is a lovely reversal at the end of the novel.

Read Full Review of The Girl Who Played Go | See more reviews from Guardian

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