Death Fugue by Sheng Keyi
Trade Paperback – Restless – Aug 2021 – 384 pages
One morning a nine-story tower of excrement of unknown origin appears in the center of Dayang’s capital, Beiping. The government swiftly scrubs the scene of all evidence and hands down its final word: Do not ask questions; dissent will be punished. But the crowd gathered in Round Square to witness the Tower Incident for themselves only grows and soon explodes in unrest. Poet Mengliu and his girlfriend Qizi join the uprising, but thousands disappear in the brutal crackdown that follows, including Qizi, the newly appointed protest leader. Mengliu abandons poetry and revolution but never gives up hope that Qizi may still be alive.
Years later, on his annual journey in search of Qizi, Mengliu washes ashore in the idyllic country of Swan Valley, a world of dreamlike beauty, perfection, and youth. But the dream becomes a nightmare as he slowly begins to unravel the secrets of Swan Valley, discovering that the perfect society exists at a deep, inhumane cost.