In Elegy of a River Shaman, Fang Qi has elegantly woven folk songs and shamanic chants into an intricate, beautiful, and wrenchingly powerful narrative of the destruction and erasure of the traditional culture along the rugged, remote gorges surrounding the Yangzi River.
With the tenacious pride and relentless ferocity of their murderous, totemic ancestor, the Immortal White Tiger, the Li family, led by stout-hearted Li Diezhu and his iron-willed wife Tao Jiuxiang, ascend from migrant destitution to local eminence, only to have the War of Resistance Against Japan (WWII), inter-familial rivalries, political upheaval, and modernity unmake decades of endless toil. The shamanic chants of tragic hero Xia Qifa—a tireless benevolent presence ever willing to help the hardscrabble mountain folk perform rites, weather droughts, or capturing ghosts and dragons—serve as the rhythmic, incantatory soundtrack of the story.
In the end, with a grim inevitability, the completion of the Three Gorges Dam inundates the rugged landscape that forged the descendants of the Tiger, submerging countless generations of love and pain, the endless triumphs and struggles that shaped the lore and history of a people, leaving the reader to wonder what remains.
Publisher: Univ of Hawaii Pr (December 31, 2016)