Books: Culture Clash

A fictional wise child's view of China in the '60s

Here is more evidence that as the world gets smaller, our horizons expand. Lulu Wang was born and raised in Beijing, moved to Holland 15 years ago and wrote her first novel, The Lily Theater, in Dutch.

Now translated into English by Hester Velmans (Doubleday; 434 pages; $25), it is a frankly autobiographical story in which the heroine, Lian, joins the tradition of the wise child. To call her a Mandarin Huck Finn may be a bit of a reach, but it makes the point, which is that sometimes it takes an innocent to see society's hypocrisies.

Lian's targets are as...

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