The Incarnations (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

When Driver Wang starts receiving mysterious letters about his former lives, he starts doubting everything happening in his current one. Who is sending them, and to what aim? Switching between the current day and the stories the letters tell, this is a book for those who crave the unreliable narrator in a new and fresh way. Susan Barker is a master at twisting history and folktales, creating a China that is at once modern and mythical. Nothing in this novel is quite as it seems and the ending is just as spooky as the beginning.

-- Cari

— From Cari K. Staff Picks


New York Times Notable Book of 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2015
Finalist for the 2015 Kirkus Prize for Fiction
Winner of a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize

Hailed by The New York Times for its "wildly ambitious...dazzling use of language" and "mesmerizing storytelling," The Incarnations is a "brilliant, mind-expanding, and wildly original novel" (Chris Cleave) about a Beijing taxi driver whose past incarnations over one thousand years 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 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 intrigue.

As 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 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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781501106781
ISBN-10: 1501106783
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Publication Date: August 18th, 2015
Pages: 384
Language: English