Nothing Sweet About This Candy
J. Gordon
8/16/2003 11:00:16 PM

Candy by Mian Mian [Back Bay Books] is a dark and strange journal/novel of a Chinese girl in the seamy underground world of Shenzen. Itís a sad and harrowing story of promiscuity, prostitution, emotional and physical abuse, empty love, addiction, AIDS and the birth of rock music in the Peopleís Republic of China.

Hong, the protagonist is a 17-year-old girl whom we follow through a horrific life; her only salvation comes through writing. She says ďI want to find a way of writing thatís as close to the body as possible.Ē And if this book is anything, it is that: close to the body--in a disturbing way.

An international literary phenomenon and historically important book, Chinese literature has never before allowed a voice so brutally frank and candid regarding social and moral taboos. The translation into English is occasionally rocky, and metaphors and images arenít always successful. Also, Candy can be a chore to follow at times, in part due to a lack of quotation marks and few attributions to the speaker. But donít let that stop you because the images are still fascinating, moving, and hold the reader in a believable way. Candy, if nothing else, will awaken the world to the plight of Chinese youth, haunting and irritating conscience nerve endings of the Western world like a hole in a tooth.


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