Roach Trap: GETTING USED TO DYING by Zhang Xianliang

Roach Trap: GETTING USED TO DYING by Zhang Xianliang

GETTING USED TO DYING

by Zhang Xianliang

Translated by Martha Avery

HarperCollins; 291 pages; $19.95

Beginnings are delicate times, and a novel can rise or fall on the strength of its first sentence. Zhang Xianliang begins his with these astonishing words: "It is no longer clear to me when I began to want to kill him." Zhang then reveals the narrator's intentions to be suicidal rather than murderous. "I" and "he" are identical, split apart only by having to survive -- for want of a better verb -- the unending political upheavals of communist China.

Though ungrammatical, the better verb could...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!