- Susan Barker (one of our writers)
- July 2014
About the publication
Hailed by The New York Times for its “wildly ambitious and mesmerizing storytelling,” The Incarnations is a “brilliant, mind-expanding novel” (Chris Cleave) about a Beijing taxi driver whose past incarnations haunt him through searing letters sent by his mysterious soulmate.
“Who are you? you must be wondering. I am your soulmate, your old friend, and I have come back to this city of sixteen million in search of you.”
So begins the first letter that falls into Wang’s lap as he flips down the visor in his taxi. The letters that follow are filled with the stories of Wang’s previous lives—from escaping marriage as a spirit bride, to being a slave on the run from Genghis Khan, to living as a fisherman during the Opium Wars, to being a teenager on the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution—bound to his mysterious “soulmate,” spanning one thousand years of betrayal and intrigue.
As the letters continue to appear, Wang becomes convinced that someone is watching him—someone who claims to have known him for over one thousand years. And with each letter, Wang feels the watcher growing closer and closer…
Seamlessly weaving Chinese folklore, history, and literary classics, The Incarnations is a taut and gripping novel that sheds light on the cyclical nature of history as it hints that the past is never truly settled.
Astonishing, amazing . . . It’s the small sagas of Chinese history contained in the letters, together with Barker’s vivid descriptions of today’s China, that set this book apart as a work of considerable, if unnerving, importance. . . . Tightly wound, intensely wrought, fantastically exciting . . . Beguiling, readable, intense . . . The book’s stellar narrative carries us briskly along.New York Times Book Review