Three Sisters is a complex moral tale set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution. Three sisters, each with their individual choices and destinies, struggle to come to terms with their situations, and to find their place within a revolutionary society. Yumi, the eldest, watches her marriage collapse, as her younger sister Yuxiu sets about a path of determined seduction. The youngest, Yuyang, seeks education as her survival strategy. The epic sweep of history, set against the changing face of a hidden society, illuminates the complexities and contradictions of the village and the city, of ideology and corrupt opportunism, of love and betrayal.
As is the case with Indian English writers, the international market has a natural bias towards more accessible, usually diasporic voices. This often renders local writers rooted in their linguistic landscapes virtually invisible in the Anglophone world. The author of this unblinking narrative, Bi Feiyu, is one of China’s prominent novelists and screenplay writers. In its nuanced understanding and expression, the moving and authentic English rendering of this Man Asian prize winner by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvie Li Chun Lin has the stamp of a classic translation.
It is heartening to see Indian publishers reaching out to showcase contemporary world fiction. Chinese literature is hidden behind the bamboo curtain, an unknown quantity. This heroic, emotional, conflict-ridden family saga is a very good place to begin the journey there.