Village of Stone – Xiaolu Guo, translated by Cindy Carter
Coral and her frisbee-obsessed boyfriend, Red, live in a cramped tower block in the megalopolis that is modern-day Beijing. The epitome of disaffected youth, their already fragile existence is shattered by the arrival of a mysterious fishy package. As the smells of the sea wash over her, Coral is transported back to a traumatic childhood dominated by solitude, fear and shame. Coral was raised by silent grandparents among the stern and superstitious fishermen of the remote village of Stone. Shunned from birth as a bringer of ill fortune, and exposed to the malevolent forces of a closed-off society, she immersed herself in the minutiae of the landscape around her. At fifteen, she escaped to the big city and shut the door on the darkness of her past.
As the narrative darts between the forbidding sprawl of Beijing and the rhythms of a tiny coastal village, our narrator struggles to navigate a path through painful and hidden memories of a time spent helpless, cold and alone. But when a sick old man appears on Coral’s doorstep, the past and present shockingly converge, and she is forced to confront the secrets of her history in order to realise her dreams for the future.