Sunday, June 03, 2012

China Mountain Zhang

By Maureen F. McHugh

China Mountain Zhang is the name of this novel and the name of its main character. He is a half-Hispanic, half-Chinese man living in New York City. Set in the not too distant future, in Zhang's world, America had a second revolution and now the country is run by communists and dominated by China. Being a half-breed is a detriment and so Zhang, who is also called Rafael Luis, is passing as full Chinese. He has a two year engineering degree and works as an engineering tech. His boss, who is native Chinese and who has a ugly unwed daughter, thinks Zhang would make a good son-in-law. Zhang knows that if his boss knew the truth about him that not only would he not want him for a son-in-law but he would also be fired. So Zhang takes the ugly daughter out on a date. Of course, nothing results from it, not only because the woman is unattractive but also because Zhang is a homosexual. Homosexuality is not condoned under the Communist regime and is yet one more thing that Zhang is hiding about himself.
Well, he does get fired, which sets him off on a new course and eventually to China to study for his engineering degree. But his is not the only story touched on in the book. It also looks at the life of a pioneer on Mars, and at the boss's ugly daughter, and briefly at the life of professional kite racers.

I enjoyed this story quite a lot. It is a look at a different society but the people are still the same, coping with life and trying to find some measure of peace and happiness and fulfillment. Quite a good read.

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