Binu and the Great Wall

Su Tong

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Binu and the Great Wall

Binu and the Great Wall Knopf Canada welcomes one of China s most acclaimed and bestselling writers author of Raise the Red Lantern to the list with a fascinating retelling of a magical story already an international bestsel

  • Title: Binu and the Great Wall
  • Author: Su Tong
  • ISBN: 9781841959047
  • Page: 491
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Knopf Canada welcomes one of China s most acclaimed and bestselling writers author of Raise the Red Lantern to the list with a fascinating retelling of a magical story already an international bestseller in China and Europe Through Binu s extraordinary story, Su Tong illuminates one of China s most magical myths In Peach village, crying is forbidden But as a child, BinuKnopf Canada welcomes one of China s most acclaimed and bestselling writers author of Raise the Red Lantern to the list with a fascinating retelling of a magical story already an international bestseller in China and Europe Through Binu s extraordinary story, Su Tong illuminates one of China s most magical myths In Peach village, crying is forbidden But as a child, Binu never learnt to hide her tears Shunned by the villagers, she faces a bleak future until she meets the man she will marry, Qiliang A few years after their marriage, Qiliang disappears Binu learns that he has been transported hundreds of miles and forced to labour on a project of terrifying ambition and scale the building of the Great Wall Inspired by her love for her husband, Binu sets out on an extraordinary journey across Great Swallow Mountain, with only a blind frog for company What follows is an unforgettable story of passion, hardship and magical adventure.

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      Published :2018-06-21T10:26:25+00:00

    One thought on “Binu and the Great Wall

    1. Kavita on said:

      Binu and the Great Wall is a retelling of the legend of Meng Jiangnu and is based during the Qin dynasty of China. The original story dealt with the suffering of the common people, a lot of whom were kidnapped and forced to build the Great Wall of China, a structure that still stands strong today. The concept is interesting and must have been a very strong critique of the ruling dynasty at the time.However, this retelling leaves a lot to be desired. The story has Binu living in a village where n [...]

    2. Chris on said:

      Maybe it's because I'm an ugly American, but I didn't like this book. I'm giving it two star because of the wonderful writing in the beginning and in other places, so it's more two stars for style.I knew about this legend before I picked up this book, so I wasn't coming into the story as a total know nothing. I also haven't read anything by Tong before, and, in all fairness, I should point out that I haven't read much in the way of Chinese literature. In truth, part of the problem I had with thi [...]

    3. Rhys on said:

      A remarkable novel that is the re-telling of an ancient myth. Su Tong not only re-tells the myth but fleshes it out considerably, and yet his style is so spare and skeletal and offbeat that this fleshing out feels genuinely strange in form, and thus perfectly in tune with the dead men and ghosts that are such a large part of the story, who are also spare and skeletal and offbeat. Even when the ghosts never appear, they are constantly alluded to, the threat of their presence saturates the emotion [...]

    4. Melaslithos on said:

      I was a bit disappointed in this book.I always found that the legend of Meng Jiangnu (Binu in this version) was a beautiful one, but here, I felt that it lacks the beauty and elegance of the original version (or at least, the image I have in my mind).Binu doesn't appear at likeable at all, and because of that, we can't really appreciate all the hardships she went through, all the love and devotion she had towards her husband.

    5. Milan/zzz on said:

      Užasno me smara. Potpuno neočekivano. Ovo je prva knjiga "Mitova" sa kojom se davim već mesecima. Pročitaću je svakako ali sad samo želim da je maknem sa "trenutno čitam"-liste.Za sad ću je oceniti jednom zvezdom a kad je završim ukoliko budem mislio da je to malo (u šta čisto sumnjam) dodaću joj.

    6. Sissel on said:

      I read about 50% in earnest before I started to skim the pages. In the beginning I found this book quite enjoyable, but I soon found myself very frustrated with the main character Binu. A lot of terrible things happen to the poor woman, but she was not prepared at all for the journey she was taking on, so I found it very hard to sympathise with her.

    7. Richard on said:

      A wonderful myth, but this retelling of it lacks energy. I don't know if the fault for this lies in oversentimentality on Su Tong's part, or through some less than insightful translation, but this quickly became very skimmable, unlike Su Tong's other books. I would recommend easily Rice or Raise the Red Lantern over this one.

    8. Stepan on said:

      I wasn't familiar with the myth of Meng Jiangnu upon which Binu is based. As such, the book didn't really resonate with me and I found it, at times, hair pullingly ponderous and slow.

    9. Marthe Bijman on said:

      Su Tong is the writer of the immensely depressing novel Rice, which is about poor Chinese people who make each other even more tormented than they already are, and ends more wretchedly than it begins. His latest novel, Binu and the Great Wall, (translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt) has much the same effect on the reader, but not only due to the unsympathetic characters and unsettling plotING TONE AND ODD IMAGERYThe text of the bleak and puzzling novel is made difficult to digest by od [...]

    10. Catherine King on said:

      I saw that this book was rated as under three stars, and I was like, "It can't really be that bad, I'll read it and give it some acclaim." The story of Binu, the faithful and loving wife whose prayers brought down the Great Wall, is one that I read when I was in second grade and it's stuck with me for many years. I really love modern retellings of myths, so I was looking forward to this book. Um. The wisdom of the crowd was not wrong. I admit, I read the first few chapters of this book and then [...]

    11. Bjorn on said:

      Why bother (re-)telling a story?If most of the volumes of the myths series so far have struggled to do anything but rehash the same tired Greco-Roman mythology, Chinese novelist Su Tong's (Raise The Red Lantern) contribution to the Canongate Myths series at least adds a different perspective. It's apparently based on the tale of Binu, the wife of a man conscripted to build the Chinese wall, who walked all the way across China to make sure he had something warm to wear when winter came, only to e [...]

    12. Ape on said:

      2008 bookcrossing review:Wow. This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but I did really enjoy it, and the images in the story were at times really beautiful. I had thought someone, because the words fairystory were used on the cover, that it would be more innocent; and also that the frog would have a much different role to play. The story style is grittier and more down to earth than I’d expected – people have rough lives, bodily functions aren’t neatly avoided, and no happy endings are [...]

    13. Emmett on said:

      I really wanted to love this book, as I've read "Raise the Red Lantern", "My Life, as Emperor", and "Rice" and enjoyed them all immensely. While it's true I haven't read a novel by Su Tong in a few years, I have to say I still consider "Rice" within my top three favorite novels I've ever read. With that being said, I just didn't feel the same sense of enjoyment for this novel. While I understand that it was written to fit into an already established series and it's a retelling of a myth, so it w [...]

    14. Michelle Yoon on said:

      Retelling the story of one woman’s journey in search for her husband, who was brought to build the Great Wall, this story follows the hardships and challenges that Binu had to face as the result of her decision to go after her husband, Qiliang.The story starts off with the story of how people who live in the areas around North Mountain have been forbidden to cry. Even babies and young children are taught to never shed tears from their eyes. But to cry is only natural, after all, and these peop [...]

    15. Will Shadbolt on said:

      This is much better than what the reviews around here say. The problem is it's not quite the fairy tale you'd expect, and it's not quite Su Tong's usual fare. (and admittedly the translation could be better). If you know what you're getting into, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. The back cover covers most of the set up. I'm not sure why they mention the frog companion, as it leaves early on and doesn't have much to do overall with the story. A lot of people seem to be upset at the awfulne [...]

    16. Jo Bennie on said:

      This is part of the Canongate Myths series, in which internationally acclaimed writers take a particular myth, fairy story etc as a starting point. Su Tong is best known for Raise the Red Lantern.Binu is the impoverished wife of Quiliang. With his mulberry trees they feed and raise silkworms. They live in Peach village at the foot of North Mountain (in China), a village where a terrible past means that crying is not permitted. Weeping has magically transmuted, some women cry from their ears, or [...]

    17. Ellie on said:

      Based on the Chinese myth of Meng Jiangnu who brought down the Great Wall with her tears of mourning, this instalment of the Canongate Myths series has ended up a surreal fairytale against a backdrop of a country in despair.Binu comes from a village where crying from your eyes is forbidden as doing so will mean your death is imminent. The women of the village get round this by shedding their tears via various body parts. When her husband is taken away to work on the Great Wall, Binu is grief-str [...]

    18. Jesse on said:

      This story is about a womans jouney to find her husband. We start the book thinking that she is incredibly devoted and willing to sacrifice her life i. An order to bring her husband (who has been taken away to work on building the Great Wall) his winter clothes.The body of the story shows us all of her trials and tribulations as she trys to reach her husband. She is robbed, molested, bought and sold several times (including to a dead man) and imprissoned. However, in the end, she makes it to the [...]

    19. Deb on said:

      This was a wonderful retelling of an old Chinese fairytale. It is about a Chinese woman who goes to look for her missing husband. He has been taken, against his will, to help build the Great Wall of China. With winter clothes for her husband and a blind frog for company, Binu must make this dangerous journey to try and save her beloved. Along her travels, poor Binu encounters many difficulties, meets many unsavory characters and villagers who are very suspicious of her and her strange companion. [...]

    20. Binit on said:

      This is a weirdly written book. I have not read many Chinese authors so there may be cultural gap, but it feels like the author is trying demonstrate pathos for the protagonist but only succeeds in making here one of the most pathetic (no pun intended!) and irritating characters I have ever read. A quick browse in shows that the myth Lady Meng Jian Nu is about a proud woman who spurns the emperor and gives up her life after bringing down a portion of the wall. Even after giving allowance for li [...]

    21. Ian McHugh on said:

      A grim tale of devotion. "Binu and the Great Wall" is based on one of the 'Four Great Folktales' of China - the story of Lady Meng Jiang. The suffering of Binu is relentless throughout the story and the cruelty she faces makes this 'myth' difficult to read at times. The story ends spectacularly and, I felt, was worth all of the suffering that had gone before. Su Tong's story, and Goldblatt's translation, are accessible and, even though Su Tong has "reimagined" the story, the mystical and poetic [...]

    22. Karen on said:

      A retelling of the 'Myth of Meng' - no, I didn't know it either - which in this version tells the tale of Binu's odyssey to the Great Wall to take winter clothes to her husband who has been conscripted to work there. He is dead, she cries. She cries a lot. She cries so much that a section of the Great Wall collapses. I suppose this is a tale of tremendous devotion, but unfortunately I never got to like or admire Binu; she was mostly annoying and in the end somewhat pathetic. All the other charac [...]

    23. Jeanine on said:

      I am pretty sure that surrealist authors got their ideas from this very particular and ancient Chinese legend. Proof:1) Characters who cry from their feet/hands/other body parts and leave wet trails wherever they go; 2) Blind frogs that search for their sons while guiding said characters across China; 3) A weather that shifts and changes based on the whims of a certain eponymous character;4) Human deer-children who sell eponymous character to a dead man.And that is barely the tip of the iceberg! [...]

    24. Paul on said:

      This one is very good, and got me interested in some new mythology I had not heard before from China. It's structured like an odyssey, and the main character is someone you can really get behind. The great wall looms large in this book, as it is being built and affecting the lives of all around. It's one of the better books in the Canongate Myths series, though none seem to be able to compete with the Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

    25. Shoujo85 on said:

      ** This is just a QUICK REVIEW of my thoughts on the book **Tried but couldn't get into it at all! It starts off about how people were punished for crying so they 'learnt' to cry using other body parts; ears, mouths, hair, etc. I just couldn't get into it at all.Is there a Happy Ending? I don’t know – I didn’t finish it.Content Rating: I don’t remember.Romance Rating: I don’t remember.

    26. Katie M. on said:

      This may have been an extraordinary book and I didn't realize it. Maybe it's a very Chinese narrative and I'm a very American reader? But I found it PAINFUL to get through. Slogging through the grim, unengaging, everything-that-could-go-wrong-will-go-wrong narrative felt kind of like pulling all the pots and pans off my shelf one by one and hitting myself over the head with them.

    27. Kati on said:

      Joyless. Just about everyone our weak, superstitious, sobbing heroine meets is villainous at worst, uninterested at best. A total slog I'd have abandoned halfway through if it weren't part of the Canongate Myths series. And then the book ends as if they'd forgotten to print the last five pages. Ugh.

    28. Anna on said:

      Started off sounding cool enough, but became too surreal (to the point of ridiculousness). Felt, at the end, like all the loose ends were just left loose. Also, most of the characters Binu comes across on her journey are just so unpleasant (to put it nicely), reading it sometimes felt like work.

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