China is undergoing a cultural renaissance, much of it government-sponsored. Temples, mansions and tombstones were ravaged, along with any artefacts or people associated with the bourgeois way of life.
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Small wonder that Communist ideology lost its appeal. The blistering pace of change in recent decades has kindled an anxiety that China is suffering from moral decay and a concomitant yearning for a revival of ancient values. The government is harnessing those feelings, using ancient rites and customs to spread favoured values. Taken together, however, they constitute an attempt to infuse daily life with a sanitised and government-sanctioned version of Chinese culture.
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The intention, as in so much that Mr Xi does, is to secure the enduring power of the Communist Party. The agenda touches every aspect of life. The party is trying to bend popular culture to its agenda, too. Examples include a much-plugged quiz show about classical poetry and another in which children compete to write complicated Chinese characters. Every part of society is being pressed into the effort. Employers are encouraged to take their staff on study trips and provide classes on culture.
The Heir of Night
A well-known Peking opera has been reinvented in jazz form to appeal to new audiences. There is an economic logic to such policies, since they protect some Chinese firms from foreign competition and promote new sources of consumption.
Yet, it is the beauty and fury of the region itself—an epic natural history transcending humanity—that takes center stage. As dreamlike and visceral as a memory, this is a novel you will not soon forget. Beginning at the turn of the 20th century, the novel focuses on Isaac, an orphaned artist, and Kemper, a fiercely independent heiress who find themselves ripped apart as World War I begins.
Though this is the third book Wascom has penned about the Woolsack family, it stands entirely on its own—a great book to get lost in this summer! With his rust-tooth style and flare for brutality, Wascom is one of the most exhilarating historical novelists in the country. This is a Gothic tale of revolution broken, rebels crippled, passions smothered but not extinguished.
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Though most of the characters are as passionate, selfish, and greedy as the city itself, Wascom makes every one of them a pleasure to read, effortlessly inhabiting each of their specific psychologies. This is such a good yarn that readers will be totally on board with the whole rambunctious package. The narrative achieves an exquisite counterbalance of five shifting points of view.
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Wascom has hit his stride with this deftly descriptive historical treasure. The plot illuminates little-known areas of history and culture. Highly recommended for historical fiction readers.
His vivid characters, male and female, young and old, powerful and passionate, brawling and bleeding, leap from the page with such energy that one does not so much look back at them as make way for them. This is the undead past clawing down the present with a force only a novelist of unfettered imagination and great joy in life could set free among us. Kent Wascom has been likened to Faulkner and McCarthy, and his fire-breathing, idiosyncratic style stands up to that comparison. Secessia should be greeted with trumpets and fanfare. Secessia reads like an outpouring of fascination and love for the past.
Beginning with his debut, The Blood of Heaven , Wascom has used that brutal flair and a lush prose style to begin what will likely be a decades-long project of demythologizing chunks of 19th-century American history. Secessia gives Wascom, who was born in New Orleans, a chance to examine some deep-seated Southern obsessions—with race, white privilege, and an addiction to lost causes and bankrupt symbols—that are still playing out today. Shortlisted for the David J. Langum Sr.
I truly can count on the fingers of one hand the number of first novels that have ever excited me this much. Wascom made me think at times of Cormac McCarthy, Charles Frazier and William Gay, but his vision is very much his own, as is his extraordinary voice. This book is pure gold. Or maybe he was just born spirited for this kind of work. Either way, I cannot name such a stunning debut as this one.
It reads as not written, but lived and remembered—and how impossible is that? Kent Wascom takes a nugget of colonial history—the Aaron Burr Conspiracy—and imbues it with a fiery life. His is a singular, important, and utterly vital voice. And The Blood of Heaven is as achingly beautiful in its personal story as it is savagely clear-headed in its national story. Kent Wascom has arrived fully-formed as a very important American writer.
The Blood of Heaven is a dark hymn to the ruthless and ruinous early days in the Louisiana fringes of our republic. You will also be in the presence of a young writer whose talent is obvious, whose sense of narrative is classical and clear, whose understanding of the craft is deep and well-formed and will only get better. Wascom writes with a fire-breathing, impassioned eloquence.
knowitderlity.tk With its setting, its violence-driven plot and its resonant and often harshly beautiful language, The Blood of Heaven evokes comparison to the work of Cormac McCarthy. Angel is a terrifying and irresistible narrator, and Kent Wascom is a striking new voice in American fiction.