The debut novel of one of China s rising young literary talents a gem of a book that takes a piercing look into the world of Chinese opera and its female stars. In a fit of diva jealousy, Xiao Yanqiu, star of The Moon Opera, disfigures her understudy with boiling water. Spurned by the troupe, she turns to teaching. Twenty years later, a rich cigarette-factory boss offers to underwrite a restaging of the cursed opera, but only on the condition that Xiao Yanqiu return to the role of Chang e. So she does, this time believing she has fully become the immortal moon goddess. Set against the drama, intrigue, jealousy, retribution, and redemption of backstage Peking opera, The Moon Opera is a stunning portrait of women in a world that simultaneously reveres and restricts them. Bi Feiyu, one of China s young literary stars, re-creates all the temptations and triumphs of the stage the world over in this gem of a novel.
A peerless singer in the Peking Opera is ruined by her jealousy of her understudy in this vividly sketched tale of art and money by Chinese screenwriter (Shanghai Triad) and novelist Feiyu. In 1979, 20 years before the novel takes place, the actress Xiao Yanqiu debuted brilliantly and memorably as the lead in The Moon Opera, although she soon wrecked her career when she attacked her understudy's teacher in a fit of rage at sharing the spotlight. Now 40, unhappily married and overweight, Xiao is offered the chance to reprise her role in a new production bankrolled by a factory owner and former fan. Xiao, who assumes the role to perfection, chooses as her understudy a gifted student, Chunlai, who postpones a TV career for the promise of the stage. The scene is set for a terrible showdown, naturally, complicated by the clash between art and money, as exemplified by the crass interests of the factory owner. The novel's slimness, simple storytelling and overarching morality lend it a fable-like air, with Xiao filling the role of its tormented star. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.