Faraway by Lo Yi Chin, an exploration into the sentiments of a man longing to belong to somewhere….

A good painter blends the right colors but never gets in the way of interpreting the painting. 

This is the first impression the writer leaves us with and through which he traverses till the end.

Lo Yi Chin’s account of Faraway translated by Jeremy Tiang doesn’t impress us with feelings, but with accounts of raw details inviting us to explore our feelings and emotions in similar circumstances. The narration set in August 2001 speaks of a son traveling with his mother from Taiwan to China to bring back his comatose father, hospitalized in the First People’s Hospital in Jinjiang. 

The story sails through the many struggles encountered as their stay is prolonged and efforts to take him back to Taiwan are delayed. The story then unravels details of his own impromptu life and detached relationships between him and his father and sons from an earlier marriage in China before he escaped to Taiwan blending it with reflections of himself as a father to his older son.

The book explores many everyday challenges of migrants and privileges in society. It is exquisitely quiet for a book, where corruption, xenophobia, and frustrations speak loud. This is captured in the writer’s own words in Chapter eight, ‘…I’d originally wanted to write about a journey of banishment, but in the end, I’ve set down a quiet, still tale. ……..capturing everything a stranger would see and hear in an unfamiliar city.’ It is hard to not get caught in the indignation of stagnancies.

Our view on the cover

The book speaks volumes of filial bonds among men, between father and son, among other male siblings in detached settings while the women in the story are more passive and play a supportive role. It speaks of the inadequacies and significance of men in authoritative positions. The book travels between different times in China and Taiwan from bygone times and its present, the shifts in humanity through history and migrant culture, characters, and their ordained relationships in the backdrop of ever-present socio-cultural and economic issues.

It is beautiful in so many ways to explore the world from a man’s eyes, their precision for details, logic, and reasoning behind their activities and events. The lives of a grandfather, father, and son, caught up in irreversible circumstances.

Writing Style

The story mixes puns with everyday occurrences. The book marvels in details are constructed in smaller and simpler sentences. It follows sequence except when you reach the end, you are intrigued with who is narrating the story i.e. protagonist or his son. Simply put, the mastery of language and authenticity is intricately beautiful.

Who can Read

This book isn’t your ideal read on a heavy day, it consumes so many emotions, so it’s the best read when you are looking for something out of the average and detail-oriented. Recommended for teens and above. 

Our final verdict

Throughout this story, one can never easily detach from the repetitive account of everyday occurrences in a hospital. It is so precise, so live, that one feels they belong in this story somewhere, sometimes watching it as it happens. 

Sometimes, nothing can prepare you enough for the circumstances that unfold when one is abroad and the exorbitant feelings of silence. In sickness and life, to feel wanted and cared for somehow. Some die a slow death in their disconnected ideologies, and some in their discoveries. The book speaks much more than the silence in everyday relationships, a must-read to find out why.

Imali Jayawardene

Categories: Reviews

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