By Charlotte Bence
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Three Sisters

This article is over 11 years, 7 months old
Bi Feiyu, Telegram, £8.99
Issue 348

Set in China, Three Sisters is mainly concerned with power relationships and the struggle of three sisters to have control over their own lives after their father’s very public fall from grace. Elder sister Yumi uses her dignity and poise to change her fate. Yuxiu uses her looks and younger sister Yuyang her desire for success. But all three struggle against a society that devalues them with tremendous inner strength and resourcefulness.

Bi Feiyu describes the coarse brutality of community and familial power jockeying with incredible bluntness, and is quick to mock the spinelessness of those who accept these various power struggles without question.

The sisters’ heroic endurance of petty cruelties and unfair obstacles is genuinely moving. One sister is raped and scorned for it, another marries a man far older than her after the man she loved rejects her for the reduced social standing of her family, and the third sister has a potentially disastrous affair with her teacher, simply because she doesn’t feel she can reject his advances.

Whether in Wang family village, where life is attuned to the rhythm of working the fields and the slogans of the Cultural Revolution, or in 1980s Beijing, none of these women is prepared to be just another wave in the “infinite ocean of people” and yet still all three find themselves accepting social hierarchies and trying to fit in.

A stunning portrayal of women’s lives in China.

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