Nominated by:

Timaru District Libraries, New Zealand

Publisher of nominated edition:

Doubleday, UK

The Incarnations

Susan Barker      

2016 Longlist

Beijing, 2008, the Olympics are coming, but as taxi driver Wang circles the city’s congested streets, he feels barely alive. His daily grind is suddenly interrupted when he finds a letter in the sunshade of his cab. Someone is watching him. Someone who claims to be his soulmate and to have known him for over a thousand years.

Other letters follow, taking Wang back in time: to a spirit-bride in the Tang Dynasty; to young slaves during the Mongol invasion; to concubines plotting to kill the emperor; to a kidnapping in the Opium War; and to Red Guards during the Cultural revolution.

And with each letter, Wang feels the watcher in the shadows growing closer …

Sweeping between China past and present, The Incarnations illuminates the cyclical nature of history, and shows how man is condemned to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Susan Barker grew up in east London. While writing The Incarnations she spent several years living in Beijing, researching imperial and modern China. She lives in London.

Librarian’s Comments

In this fascinating and compelling work, Barker hooks in the reader from the first page and delivers a rich and satisfying journey through six periods of Chinese history. The extremes and excesses experienced by the diverse characters of each incarnation create a depth of cultural immersion that is eye-opening but very rewarding in spite of its bleakness.

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