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Soul Mountain This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The Nobel Prize winning novel Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian could, in my opinion, just as easily be nonfiction, autobiography or mythology. It chronicles the journey of self-discovery in the middle of Communist China and is filled with folklore and Walden-esque naturalism, basically chronicling one man's mid-life crisis. Instead of buying a sports car, though, he travels to China in search of meaning after being misdiagnosed with lung cancer.

The novel is not in chronological order, written in the same tense or from the same point of view. All but two paragraphs in Chapter 36 begin with "It is said." Because of this rather wacky style, the reader is often left in the dark. But, because of the style, it is a very enjoyable darkness to be in. There is vivid imagery, humor and life lessons, but it is confusing. It definitely takes the reader on a journey, but it's a blindfolded journey. In a convertible. One can feel, taste, smell and hear everything, but you have no idea where you are going, if you are ever going to get there, or whether or not you want to ever get there because the ride is so interesting.

The first thing that caught my attention was its humor. I never thought a book that won a literary prize could be humorous. Lo and behold, the first chapter reads like one of those 1940s travel shorts. It is all in second person, and you can hear that a cheesy announcer could be speaking, as the camera follows a goofy-looking guy, or maybe no one at all, maybe it is all in "your" point of view, and all you see is what "you" see, even cheesier.

I am fairly certain that everyone will find something in Soul Mountain to which they can relate. More than anything, I like a book to make me think. Coming across passages like, "I didn't know whether, during my lifetime, others had wronged me more or I had wronged others more," made me think long and hard about my own life.

Both deep and topical, witty and emotional, Soul Mountain is a literary achievement of grand proportions. I want to read it again more analytically, but I think I'll wait a bit. It's a long book. .

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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