Download PDF The Incarnations Author Susan Barker –

Download PDF  The Incarnations Author Susan Barker – ➸ [Reading] ➺ The Incarnations By Susan Barker ➭ – 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 youSo begins the first letter that falls into Wang’s lap as he 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 youSo 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 a marriage to a spirit bride to being a slave on the run from Genghis Khan to living as a fisherman during the Opium Wars and being a teenager on the Red Guard during the cultural revolution—bound to his mysterious “soulmate” spanning one thousand years of betrayal and intrigueAs the letters continue to appear seemingly out of thin air 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 closerSeamlessly 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.

10 thoughts on “The Incarnations

  1. karen karen says:

    this book is very david mitchell y in structure and theme but it is somewhat less intellectually demanding than mitchell and as the ever astute blair points out there isn't much of a difference between the voices of the discrete narratives but that doesn't mean it's not an astonishingly good book on its own meritsit's a sad freuently brutal story of the various incarnations of two souls spanning the course of hundreds of years with detail rich backdrops of ancient to modern china the stories satellite around wang a taxi driver in beijing in 2008 with a wife named yida a daughter named echo and some heavy emotional baggage in his rearview chortle and as he will soon learn that emotional baggage is not just restricted to this life; he has had five previous lives in which he has engaged with another entity in various ways many of them centered around erotic entanglements and most of them ending in betrayal and gruesome deathalthough he has no memory of these lives he begins to receive mysterious letters from the person with whom he shared these experiences detailing the nature of their relationships through time and vowing that their paths will cross again the five letters chronicling their lives are standalone chapters in the novel and had they been five stories in a larger collection i would have thought what excellent stories these are but i am so glad that barker chose to go the extra step and use them as bones to wrap a whole other story around it is a wonderfully ambitious risk and i think it paid off the only uibble i have is that i wish the story had been evenly distributed there's a lot of wang heh in between the past life stories and while his own current life is beautifully tragically written i would have loved islands of past lives breaking up his storyline but that's just a minor complaint in what was a singularly enjoyable discomfiting immersive reading experience if she writes a book of short stories i will read it gladly if she writes another novel i will read it gladly if she writes a poem on a bathroom wall i will read it gladly edit so i just learned she has TWO OTHER BOOKS which i will read gladlyi don't want to say much but i urge you to get your hands on this as long as you have the stomach for some of the graphic bits and piecescome to my blog

  2. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    ”In other incarnations I have explored every inch of you with tongue and fingers and eyes No matter how dilapidated scarred and mutilated your body I have always found you beautiful for it is the soul beneath I seek” Wang Jun a Beijing cab driver starts receiving letters They are not posted to him but left where he will be sure to find them They are disturbing letters because they are telling him things about himself that he doesn’t know He doesn’t remember these revelations because what he is being told has happened to him in the past Not the current past but the past before he became Wang Jun Enlightening? Confusing? Frightening? Crazy?None of it will make sense or be acceptable as long as he continues to resist the notion that he has been reincarnated several times Why does this person remember and Wang remembers nothing? Who is this letter writer? “After incarnation is when we meet After the hand of fate has snatched up our souls and placed them in the womb to be born again kicking and screaming into the human world Fate throws us in the same family the same harem the same herd of slaves But fate sets us against each other Fate has us brawling red in tooth and claw Fate condemns us to bring about the other’s downfall To blaze like fiery meteors as we crash into each other’s stratosphere then incinerate to heat and dust”The book takes readers backwards and forwards in time as we meet these two reincarnates time and again as whores eunuchs murderers sorceresses slaves concubines and pirates Their souls always find each other regardless of the roles they have been assigned in any given life Sometimes they are lovers Sometimes they kill each other Usually when I read a book that flips between different time periods I start to prefer one or the other and that never happens in this book The hapless Wang Jun taxidriver is just as interesting to me as the other colorful characters from his past lives I just love this description from an encounter in 1836 during the ing Dynasty “Slumber beast Yellow slit of eye Slobbering on the cobbles of Hog Lane as though gnashed up in the jaws of the Sea Daemon and spewed out Hairy knuckled hand sleep scratching the crotch rot between his legs Yellow matted hair like trampled straw He should have been set ablaze he was so crawling with filth and disease”You would think he was talking about a lion or certainly some deprived and abused creature but of course the Chinese boy is describing a drunk white man passed out in the gutter There is a concubine who has suffered under the torture of Emperor Jiajing during the Ming Dynasty in 1542 ”I loosen my sash and shrug my shoulders so my robe slides to my feet The stitches that crisscross my body are like puckered seams holding together my patchwork of skin ‘Do these scars count as evidence that His Majesty favours me?’” Another great example of the dangers of anyone having absolute power It isn’t enough for Jiajing to screw the most beautiful young girls in the land but he also has to hurt them scar them make them even his property than they already are as depositories of his vile seed A thousand year bond is impossible to break As the past continues to collide with the present Wang becomes and unstable Shadows become paranoid delusions Friends are a fount of suspicious suppositions Fares are annoyances who wrap barbed wire around jangled nerves with every veiled criticism His family is unnerved by this distorted tortured version of the person they love If he is all these reincarnations and a product of all these events of all these past livesthen who is he? If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visithttpwwwjeffreykeetencomI also have a Facebook blogger page at

  3. Blair Blair says:

    The Incarnations compared in the publisher's description to the work of David Mitchell is a weird and wonderful piece of historicalfantasysuspense fiction unlike anything else I've read The book opens with a letter written to a taxi driver named Wang Jun by a person who claims to be his 'soulmate' In this strange missive the so called soulmate writes of a number of 'past lives' he or she or it has shared with Wang ranging across centuries of Chinese history Wang suspects it's a prank but the letters keep coming and they grow and personal as the writer goes into further detail about the nature of these past lives or incarnations which range from the tale of a eunuch and a prostitute in 632 AD to a story about teenage girls in an 'anti capitalist' school during the Maoist 1960s Wang's sanity hangs in the balance as the stability of his marriage is threatened by the letters' content and by his conviction that they are the work of a malicious stalker As he tries to figure out what's going on the reader comes to understand that the person Wang appears to be an ordinary taxi driver a semi happily married man a decent father is not who he is; his past is much darker and complicated He develops a theory about the identity of the letter writer which the reader may be tempted to share but is the truth really that simple?The use of letters to tell these stories means the 'incarnations' are treated as self contained short stories within the overarching narrative This keeps the book constantly unpredictable and surprising while providing you with a reason to care about how and why the stories are connected The stories are freuently violent in pretty horrible ways including a scene of castration which I couldn't actually bear to read There's a hell of a lot of sex actually it's remarkable when two characters encounter each other and manage not to have sex but also a lot of sexual violence and abuse Relationships are freuently the product of some kind of bargain and sex work appears to be a recurring theme often an inevitability for young poor women and men alike Severe mental or physical health problems affect almost all the main characters at some point Men are sex obsessed violent horrible to their wives and abusive to their sons; women are vain selfish neglectful towards their children and stab each other in the back Altogether nobody comes off very well although the straight men in these stories are particularly repugnant Wang himself is often hard to sympathise with and some of his actions are very uestionable indeed The narrative is powerful though with the most effective section being the one set in 1966 a shocking reminder that there are events in real recent history terrifying than any dystopian tale I understand why people might think this book is similar to some of Mitchell's work but The Incarnations for me doesn't compare to Ghostwritten or Cloud Atlas The stories are all gripping and cleverly paced but they lack any clear difference in narrative style and it was this in part that made the aforementioned books so enjoyable to read It's a good job The Incarnations is such an interesting read as it's best devoured uickly If I had stretched my reading of this book over a longer period of time I imagine it would have seemed unbearably unremittingly grim It's a great work of fiction and very original but not something I would want to revisit Not entirely relevant note I know proofs are meant to be uncorrected but I don't usually encounter than a handful of mistakes in them; this seemed to have one on almost every page badnonexistent punctuation spelling mistakes and odd unnatural sounding insertion of characters' names into dialogue and I was only able to ignore these because I was already aware it was uncorrected Therefore I'm not knocking a star off for this but if I'd been reading a finished copy with the same volume of errors that would be another story

  4. Arielle Walker Arielle Walker says:

    I feel that this book deserves a better review than I can give it On the one hand it's fantastically written intriguing perfectly plotted and wonderfully descriptive and the various narrative strands woven throughout make it impossible to put down So a brilliant book right? I don't actually knowSee on the other hand The Incarnations is also harsh gruesome and ultimately thoroughly depressing which I am really not in the right frame of mind to be reading at the moment I finished the book feeling rather uneasy and even a little nauseated I couldn't call it bad for this reason but I can't exactly say I enjoyed it

  5. Carly O& Carly O& says:

    When I picked up a book at BEA set in Beijing I was very excited As some of our readers may know I have moved to China for a year to teach English and I previously studied abroad in Beijing Incarnations tells the story of a Beijing taxi driver who finds himself haunted by his past lives receiving mysterious letters from his ‘soulmate’ detailing their past incarnations together Having sat in the back of many a Beijing taxi and wondered about the lives of the drivers I thought it would be interesting to read this tale of a driver’s back story What I was not prepared for was the sheer amount of brutal violence cruelty and misery contained within these pages Trigger Warning rape violence abusive relationshipsIn my opinion once a novel has reached its fifth or sixth graphically described rape scene it has passed well beyond the point of ‘necessary to the plot’ and into the realm of ‘morbidly obsessed with humiliation and suffering’ The concept of the plot was intriguing enough that I read to the end to figure out who the soulmate narrator was but it was not an enjoyable read and I definitely contemplated abandoning the books several times Only the fact that I had nothing else to read kept me going Keep an eye on TheDailyGeekettewordpresscom for my full review

  6. ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️ ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️ says:

    History is coming for you Clever thrilling and utterly fucked up What an adventure this was A dark and twisted seriously TWISTED albeit utterly enthralling reading experience that’ll take you on a wild and unnerving ride through the various dynasties of China seamlessly weaving Chinese folklore and history Trigger warning for well every sick thing you can think of Cannibalism sexual assault mutilation torture and so much

  7. Aubrey Aubrey says:

    One of the main uibbles my professors have had with my essays thus far is how the ambition of my ideas isn't uite supported by the structure of the analysis or the analysis of the structure I'm getting a feel for the middle ground of close enough but not too close analysis but I'll always prefer grandiose synthesis of major thematic concepts to counting syllables in each line of prose There's hope for those less inclined towards the theoretical though for if the number of syllables your prose unspools through does not match some amount prescribed by the rhythm of breath and blood and sense of vocal beauty experienced by a human being I'm less likely to love If however you don't have either and even the regular business of plot and character is continually sacrificed to a present tense too enad with its own construction to attempt engagement through other literary aspects well You'll get your readers judging by the average rating and top reviews of this but the person who shoved the return date for my library copy up so that I was forced to finish it before the holidays did me of a favor than anything elseThe much compared to Cloud Atlas got a three star from me as well and after my Postcolonial short story class I'm beginning to think I'm not the biggest fan of smushing disjointed novels together for the sake of sueezing out of the current market Short stories have feelings too okay? They don't like being suffocated in a tenuous box of connections that would really be much appropriate for a short story cycle with all its mysterious universe potential than a reincarnation plot where every incarnation sounds the same There's also the fact that I have too strong a background knowledge of Chinese history to enjoy the glimpses I got over the millennium and a half or so and what may have engaged others seemed to me like Wikipedia articles reworked enough into the own words concept to pass by the editors Editor Did someone edit this? I ask because the prose jolted me out of immersion every half paragraph with sentences that desperately needed reordering or rewording or less creative rule breaking and realizing you need to be brilliant at the rules before you start running roughshod on them The main plot line of the modern reincarnation was okay but when the past started building up oof First incarnation in the Tang dynasty didn't last a chance against Empress second to last set in the midst of the Cultural Revolution made me wish I was rereading Red Azalea and the mystery in the present day middle didn't succeed in making me care much about its solutionReviews of this say it was dark Yes I got that and after the first incarnation got bored cause there's nothing that sours uite as rapidly as an overdose of sensationalism however macabre I appreciated the multiplicity of sexualities and gendered viewpoints but it was all very surface level all very standardized POV that happened to be malefemalehetcis and felt carefully constructed for the liberal gaze rather than immersed in writing a human being I still have hopes for the author cause it's not like she's lacking for interesting ideas when it comes narrative structures but it takes than a nifty scaffold to fully engage a reader

  8. Lata Lata says:

    Within the framing story of Wang Jun the taxi driver the author tells us smaller stories each set in a different time in China’s past and told by an individual who says she and Wang have been encountering each other in each of these lives Actually not just encountering each other but playing significant often painful parts in each others’ livesWang has his own difficult life happening when the narrator begins sending him letters describing each of these lives and their intense relationship over centuries That these letters frighten him and destabilize him is not surprising and the careful arrangements Wang has in his life begin unravellingThere’s a sense of menace as the letters’ time periods and the actions described within them approach the present with Wang Jun feeling paranoid and his marriage coming under tremendous strainAnd the reveal That was great and sad how the story resolved with an interesting outcome for one of the characters

  9. Taryn Taryn says:

    This book is so good I'm afraid it has reduced me to incoherent babbling I'll do my best to bring order to my thoughts though because I want EVERYONE to read it and love it as much as I doI also don't want to say too much about it because I think it's one of those where the less you know going in the betterWang is a cab driver in Beijing He has a wife and a daughter A strained relationship with his father and stepmother Overall he lives a simple uiet life When he receives a strange letter claiming he is a reincarnate and has lived many lives before this one he at first assumes it's someone's idea of a joke The letter writer identifies him or herself as his soul mate saying they have lived linked lives for over a thousand years Future letters detail each of those lives in turn and they are lives full of violence desire and betrayal set against the backdrop of a millennium of riveting Chinese history The letters' increasing urgency and the sender's intimate knowledge of secret details of Wang's life send him into a downward spiral of paranoia The momentum is unstoppable because it is fed by two sources the fascinating stories of Wang's past lives and the obscured identity of the letter writer I'd seen The Incarnations compared to the work of David Mitchell and while I loved The Bone Clocks it was an intellectually demanding read for me and I initially wasn't sure I was in the mood for such a challenge However I found that despite its rigorous structure Barker's novel is incredibly accessible It felt very much like a page turner even though the prose reuired my focus So don't be put off or intimidated by scholarly sounding blurbs—this book is the perfect balance of intelligence and charisma It's like Matt Damon but in book formI have no doubt this book is destined to be one of my favorites of the yearMore book recommendations by me at wwwreadingwithhipposcom

  10. Eva Eva says:

    I bought this book because the cover promised a read similar to David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas The Incarnations has the same interesting ingredient re incarnations with a novelty in a Chinese setting I definitely learned something about China and this is the only positive take away from the book and the star it deserves The atmosphere in Mao's China was similar to the one in 1984 by Orwell and thoroughly depressingMy problem with the book was that there was too much cruelty the two main characters often met violent ends and there was no promise of peace There was no hint of the evolution of the soul no lessons learned from a reincarnation the relationship between the two characters did not evolve They still killed one another in many different ways One interesting twist was the amount of homosexual love in the book this sets it far apart from books where the love story is between a man and a woman It was a nice turn in the second story but it became a predictable twist for the next stories in the book All in all I wouldn't recommend this book

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