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  • Title : The Incarnations by Susan Barker

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The Incarnations by Susan Barker Description

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 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 Get A CopyKindle Store Online StoresAudibleBarnes NobleKoboApple iBooksGoogle PlayAbebooksBook DepositoryIndigoAlibrisBetter World BooksIndieBoundLibraries Or buy for Hardcover, 371 pages Published August 18th 2015 by Touchstone first published July 3rd 2014 More Details Original Title The Incarnations ISBN 1501106783 ISBN13 9781501106781 Edition Language English setting Beijing China Literary Awards Kirkus Prize Nominee for Fiction Finalist 2015 Other Editions 13 All Editions Add a New Edition Combine Less Detail edit details Friend Reviews To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up Reader QA To ask other readers questions about The Incarnations, please sign up Popular Answered Questions Has anyone who has read The Incarnations also read The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson How do they compare like 2 years ago See all 3 answers Catherine I liked both of them but the Gargoyle was wayyy better flag This question contains spoilers view spoiler So I just finished this book, really liked it But I dont understand why the incarnations are only set in China and I didn t understand how his mom manage to put the letters in his car theres is a couple of things that are unclear but generally I liked how the writing as I felt every line of the book hide spoiler like 2 years ago Add your answer Katie I wondered why they were only set in China also It never really explains that I just assumed that because the two souls were connected with each I wondered why they were only set in China also It never really explains that I just assumed that because the two souls were connected with each other that maybe they were also connected to China And his mother could have easily put the letters in his cab Remember he last saw her when he was 12 years old and nearly 20 years have passed since then She could look much different and he would not recognize her She could also wear a scarf and hat to cover her as much as possibly less flag See all 5 questions about The Incarnations Lists with This Book Goodreads Picks For Tournament of Books 2016 280 books 1,310 voters New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015 100 books 163 voters More lists with this book Community Reviews showing 1 30 Rating details Sort Default Filter Mar 05, 2015 karen rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves icky sex, distant lands, death is not the end, free from work 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 merits.it s a sad, frequently 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 st 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 merits.it s a sad, frequently 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 death.although 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 quibble 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 gladly i 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 pieces flag 167 likesLike see review View all 41 comments Mar 20, 2014 Blair rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves read on kindle, past and present, netgalley, 2014 release, magical and macabre The Incarnations, compared in the publisher s description to the work of David Mitchell, is a weird and wonderful piece of historical fantasy suspense 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 The Incarnations, compared in the publisher s description to the work of David Mitchell, is a weird and wonderful piece of historical fantasy suspense 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 frequently 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 frequently 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 questionable 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 quickly 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 bad nonexistent 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 flag 29 likesLike see review Sep 11, 2014 Arielle Walker rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves fantasy unusual, stand alone, magical realism, read diversely 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 know.See, 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 finish 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 know.See, 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 flag 26 likesLike see review View all 3 comments Sep 06, 2015 Carly OConnell rated it did not like it 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 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 TheDailyGeekette.wordpress.com for my full review flag 21 likesLike see review View all 14 comments Sep 15, 2014 Aubrey rated it liked it review of another edition Shelves 3 star, reviewed, disturbation, reality check, person of everything, person of reality, r goodreads, r 2015, antidote think twice read, antidote think twice all One of the main quibbles my professors have had with my essays thus far is how the ambition of my ideas isn t quite 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 pr One of the main quibbles my professors have had with my essays thus far is how the ambition of my ideas isn t quite 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 else.The 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 squeezing 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 solution.Reviews of this say it was dark Yes, I got that, and after the first incarnation got bored, cause there s nothing that sours quite 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 male female het cis 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 flag 15 likesLike see review View all 8 comments Apr 07, 2014 Bex Dawkins rated it it was amazing review of another edition I can t explain to you how much I enjoyed reading this book Easily my favourite book I ve read this year so far.Wang is middle aged and living his life as a taxi driver in Beijing when mysterious letters start to be left in his taxi These letters are elaborate tales of Wang s previous lives from someone who claims to be his soulmate We re invited to read these letters and become engulfed in Wang s past lives, like reading many different stories which are all tied up into one book Wang has li I can t explain to you how much I enjoyed reading this book Easily my favourite book I ve read this year so far.Wang is middle aged and living his life as a taxi driver in Beijing when mysterious letters start to be left in his taxi These letters are elaborate tales of Wang s previous lives from someone who claims to be his soulmate We re invited to read these letters and become engulfed in Wang s past lives, like reading many different stories which are all tied up into one book Wang has lived as a eunuch, a revolutionary, a concubine, a slave The list goes on We delve into Chinese history and each of these stories are perfectly crafted and clearly well researched I can t put this novel into a genre It s love, it s unrequited love, it s historical fiction, it s modern fiction, it s beautifully written like great poetry, it s a mystery and it too has moments which span war, religion, philosophy, thriller, horror and comedy Susan Barker is a terrific writer and I urge you to read this flag 13 likesLike see review Jan 02, 2015 Tara rated it really liked it review of another edition This book honestly blew me away It s a spectacular narrative of a Beijing taxi driver in 2008 being shadowed by his soul mate across hundreds of years of Chinese history Absolutely breathtaking.The story was incredibly well written and intricately woven The characters were vibrant and multifaceted and often hard to sympathise with The stories were cruel and grotesque they were exposing and didn t shy away from the truth The fact that the stories had elements of historic accuracy chilled This book honestly blew me away It s a spectacular narrative of a Beijing taxi driver in 2008 being shadowed by his soul mate across hundreds of years of Chinese history Absolutely breathtaking.The story was incredibly well written and intricately woven The characters were vibrant and multifaceted and often hard to sympathise with The stories were cruel and grotesque they were exposing and didn t shy away from the truth The fact that the stories had elements of historic accuracy chilled me to the bone For me, the most horrific story was when the characters were involved in the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1966 flag 12 likesLike see review View 1 comment Aug 01, 2015 Taryn Pierson rated it it was amazing 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 do.I 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 better.Wang 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, quiet life When he receives a strange 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 do.I 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 better.Wang 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, quiet 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 required 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 form.I have no doubt this book is destined to be one of my favorites of the year.More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com flag 11 likesLike see review View all 9 comments Jun 09, 2015 Eva Gavrilova rated it did not like it review of another edition 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 depressing.My problem with the book was that there was too much cruelty, the two main char 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 depressing.My 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 flag 9 likesLike see review View 2 comments Aug 19, 2015 Cher rated it liked it Shelves audiobook, fantasy magic prnrml 3 stars It was good Sweeping between China past and present, THE INCARNATIONS illuminates the cyclical nature of history, and shows how man is condemned to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.Reincarnation is one of those trigger words for me, where if I see it in a synopsis I immediately want to read the book This was a solid addition to that theme, but not as great as I had hoped Reads almost like a collection of linked short stories, most taking place in ancient times Almost all 3 stars It was good Sweeping between China past and present, THE INCARNATIONS illuminates the cyclical nature of history, and shows how man is condemned to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.Reincarnation is one of those trigger words for me, where if I see it in a synopsis I immediately want to read the book This was a solid addition to that theme, but not as great as I had hoped Reads almost like a collection of linked short stories, most taking place in ancient times Almost all of the stories include violence, normally of a sexual nature Enjoyed the surprise ending, but still had a feeling of wanting overall when the last page was turned Sort of like when you order a tasty entree at a restaurant, but one that is too small in size and you re still a bit peckish when you re done I was left feeling unsatiated by the contents not an issue of length so much as substance.I don t agree with the comparisons to David Mitchell Yes, this was a strange tale with interwoven subplots and characters, but it felt shallow and less intricate convoluted than one of David Mitchell s works, which always take you to the deep end of the pool Not that one style is better than the other, but they are very different from one another and will give misleading expectations to Mitchell fans Favorite Quote Greed is the beating heart of our people, and morality is overruled by the worship of money Anyone can be bought and sold.First Sentence Every night I wake from dreaming flag 8 likesLike see review Aug 25, 2015 Love Fool rated it really liked it 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 th 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.This book was crazy I couldn t stop reading it The stories were insane and so clever how Susan Barker entwined history with her fiction I will warn you that the book is very graphic, gory, and sexual Not going to lie, I did feel a little pervy for reading it but I m mature enough kinda to not fully blush Spoiler What I didn t like was how Susan Barker makes it seem like our souls were never the same in previous lives meaning that in one life I could be evil and like to kill while the other be a saint I believe our souls are us, and no matter what life you are in you are the same flag 10 likesLike see review Sep 07, 2015 Jenny Reading Envy rated it really liked it Shelves ebooks, around the world, location china, reviewcopy, read2015 I received a review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review I got it from the publisher through my request in Edelweiss.I wanted to read this book because it sounded like an interesting concept Wang is a taxi driver who starts finding letters above the visor in his cab letters that detail stories from different eras in China, that the mysterious letter writer claims are stories of a shared past life The blurbs compare this to David Mitchell but I find Mitchell to be of a li I received a review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review I got it from the publisher through my request in Edelweiss.I wanted to read this book because it sounded like an interesting concept Wang is a taxi driver who starts finding letters above the visor in his cab letters that detail stories from different eras in China, that the mysterious letter writer claims are stories of a shared past life The blurbs compare this to David Mitchell but I find Mitchell to be of a literary read, with fully developed separate stories That isn t to knock Barker, that just isn t what she s done here There is far of a focus on the present day, the taxi driver, and stories of his family, his past, his childhood Sprinkled in are these other narratives that temporarily pull the reader into different dynasties and the Communist revolution, but we always return to Wang.From my understanding of reincarnation, it would be rare for a pairing such as is described here two souls who follow one another throughout time Sometimes lovers, sometimes enemies, sometimes on the periphery flag 8 likesLike see review View 1 comment Sep 02, 2014 Penguin Random House NZ rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves fiction Marthie It is probably way too early to start my favourite books of the year list, but I rank The Incarnations by Susan Barker as one of my contenders It is a truly amazing story, a brilliant feat of imagination that had me reading into the small hours.A thousand years of Chinese history is presented to us through five incarnations, sweeping effortlessly from past to present ranging from the Tang Dynasty up to life in modern day Beijing We follow the lives of two soulmates, forever bound Marthie It is probably way too early to start my favourite books of the year list, but I rank The Incarnations by Susan Barker as one of my contenders It is a truly amazing story, a brilliant feat of imagination that had me reading into the small hours.A thousand years of Chinese history is presented to us through five incarnations, sweeping effortlessly from past to present ranging from the Tang Dynasty up to life in modern day Beijing We follow the lives of two soulmates, forever bound together, fated to make their mistakes over and over again History, the author seems to say, is a cycle always breathing down your neck, watching you and, eventually, catching up with you.We first encounter Wang as a taxi driver in Beijing, 2008 The descriptions of life in the city are vivid and colourful You smell the polluted streets, you feel the despair and hopeless acceptance of the crowds coping with horrendous traffic snarls, living in grimy, broken down apartments, scrabbling out their pitiful existence.However, Wang is not the bland, boring man he seems He hides a difficult and complicated past His father, once a powerful and abusive man, shipped not only his wife, but also a troubled teenaged Wang to institutions But the worm has turned his father, now an aged drooling invalid, is being cared for by his vengeful stepmother who is settling the score for her past mistreatment.Wang has always repressed his troubled past, but when letters mysteriously appear in the sunshade of his cab, his boring facade begins to crack Paranoia sets in He feels that he is being watched all the time The author of the aggressive and threatening letters insists that they have known each other for over a thousand years but surely that s impossible Each letter recounts the past lives of Wang and the mysterious author during different eras of Chinese history The stories are amazing tales, detailing the horrific impact of historical events and the consequences of choices made.The first story recounts the life of a spirit bride during the Tang Dynasty The soulmates then meet again as young slaves during the Mongol invasion as concubines in the Forbidden City as a foreign devil and a fisherboy during the Opium Wars and, finally, as schoolgirls attending the Anti Capitalist School for Revolutionary Girls during the cultural revolution.Susan Barker manages not only to hold these dark and gruesome tales together, but weaves them into an incredibly strong story, every time bringing it closer to the present The Incarnations is colourful, interspersed with a lovely wry sense of humour, and sparkles with great characters We are left with the message that history indeed repeats itself, and that we never seem to learn from our past mistakes flag 8 likesLike see review Jul 02, 2014 Komal rated it liked it review of another edition Shelves historical fiction I like how this book has two genres contemporary fiction with historical fiction injected in it A story within a story It s a gripping book and has a strange melancholic tone which is surprisingly intriguing and you read on till the end with the same interest and curiosity that you had in the beginning to find out the identity of the letter writer In fact, one of the main reasons I kept on reading this book was to find out who was stalking Wang Jun and writing him letters and I was not disap I like how this book has two genres contemporary fiction with historical fiction injected in it A story within a story It s a gripping book and has a strange melancholic tone which is surprisingly intriguing and you read on till the end with the same interest and curiosity that you had in the beginning to find out the identity of the letter writer In fact, one of the main reasons I kept on reading this book was to find out who was stalking Wang Jun and writing him letters and I was not disappointed with the direction the author took this book in Though I m not entirely certain of this book s historical accuracy, it was certainly fascinating to read stories from long ago from a culture to which I have very little exposure While reading this book I was reminded countless times of how Murakami esque the story line somewhat and writing style a lot is I think the ending of this book was beautifully done, there couldn t have been a better ending it was bitter and sad and perfect flag 7 likesLike see review Sep 24, 2015 Genevieve rated it it was amazing Recommended to Genevieve by T.D Whittle Shelves reviewed, favorites, literary fiction, fantasy fantastical magical, historical fiction, mind blowing bends expectations, stayed with me for days, epic immersive To truly live, you must understand where you come from Susan Barker s The Incarnations starts in Beijing in the summer of 2008 A letter is left in a cab driven by a nebbish, unassuming driver named Wang Jun Wang lives a relatively quiet and ordinary life with his wife Yida and daughter Echo The letter soon changes everything for Wang, quickly ensnaring him in messy cat and mouse game as he tries to figure out the identity of his stalker.More letters come The author makes a bold claim He To truly live, you must understand where you come from Susan Barker s The Incarnations starts in Beijing in the summer of 2008 A letter is left in a cab driven by a nebbish, unassuming driver named Wang Jun Wang lives a relatively quiet and ordinary life with his wife Yida and daughter Echo The letter soon changes everything for Wang, quickly ensnaring him in messy cat and mouse game as he tries to figure out the identity of his stalker.More letters come The author makes a bold claim He she is someone who has known Wang for centuries, through past lives, and claims a duty to inform him To have lived six times, but to know only your latest incarnation, is to know only one sixth of who you are The novel cycles through each incarnation Wang as a eunuch, a slave during the Mongolian invasion, a concubine during the Ming Dynasty, a Tanka fisherboy during the rise of British colonialism, and a student during the Cultural Revolution There s a twist though The letter writer isn t just writing a straight up biography It s a personal history of a much different sort, confessional than historical, and it is soon revealed that the letter writer shares a deep, complex, and very twisted bond with Wang, one that s scarred by violence, lust, incest, and murder.Barker writes these two lives as if they are twined souls, soul mates, but quickly strips the romanticism of that idea and makes it a raw, elemental bond one that is filtered through a complicated amalgam of longing and rejection It is a poisonous dance victim exploiter Wang Jun s lives are characterized by abuse, treachery, rage, jealousy the basest, most reckless, and most damaging of human emotions The Incarnations feels like tilt a whirl of these dark impulses and how they can sabotage relationships As Wang Jun learns about his past lives, we are also embroiled in his present The letters disturb him to the core and seem to precipitate an unraveling in his personal life, revealing cracks and weaknesses in his relationships to his father, stepmother, wife, and daughter We learn about Wang s troubled past An underachieving college dropout, son of a wealthy Communist Party official, troubled marriage, brewing, tortured conflicts about his sexuality Wang is marred and haunted by a history of mental instability, a hateful relationship with his abusive father, and guilt over his mother s death.The way Barker weaves these realities together, past and present, is seamlessly done Barker could have left this as a series of chopped up tales, and while the novel does read sometimes like a collection of disparate exotic, rococo short stories, Barker ties everything together in the end The Incarnations is remarkable for its storytelling and detail You can tell Barker did incredible research for this As these tortuous lives unfold, we are simultaneously treated to the vast, rich scope of China s past and present What readers get is a compelling, imaginative romp through history I was absolutely entranced and pulled in as I read.Fair warning The lives of Wang Jun are painful and heartbreaking The many incidences of savagery and betrayal are written with unforgiving detail The bleakness is unrelenting, though oddly never wearisome because Barker writes with such empathy for her characters But don t look for happy endings in any of the six lives It s pretty obvious that being an incarnate is a cruel curse than a blessing And there is never any redemption in subsequent lives, although there is always the hope Sadly, kindness and altruism rarely pay off Kill or be killed seems to be the moral rule in this universe Being born into this world is hell, Wang Jun s mother teaches him as a child You will be crushed with countless millions all your life long Part of the mesmerizing snare of The Incarnations is the fundamental mystery Who is writing the letters Knowing his dysfunctional past, can we trust Wang and his suspicions Is his wife right about him all along Is it really all in his head The truth is only revealed in the last twenty or so pages I loved the bittersweet finale and revelation, which tied together the layers of narrative nicely and brought everything full circle And not only do we learn the truth about Wang and the letter writer but also a third party twist that will surprise you and make your heart ache The Incarnations is ultimately about the heavy burdens of a past weighed down by guilt and regret, but also how knowing acknowledging that past can be the way out With the letters and revelations, perhaps the cycle of misery can be broken flag 6 likesLike see review View 2 comments Aug 11, 2015 sappho_reader rated it really liked it review of another edition Recommended to sappho_reader by The Adam Johnson blurb on cover Shelves features a boat, disturbing, omg sex, prc Many compare The Incarnations to David Mitchell which I don t think is fair to be honest I don t like it when an author, particularly a new one, is categorized as being like another No, this is not a David Mitchell novel It lacks Mitchell s plot complexity but that doesn t mean it s not worth reading on its own merits I enjoyed this than I expected and I was captivated throughout When considering a premise of reincarnation I assumed that the two soul mates in this book would be lovers Many compare The Incarnations to David Mitchell which I don t think is fair to be honest I don t like it when an author, particularly a new one, is categorized as being like another No, this is not a David Mitchell novel It lacks Mitchell s plot complexity but that doesn t mean it s not worth reading on its own merits I enjoyed this than I expected and I was captivated throughout When considering a premise of reincarnation I assumed that the two soul mates in this book would be lovers throughout time and their reunions could be classified as good fodder for romance novels but I was completely wrong Susan Barker uses reincarnation to highlight the brutality of one thousand years of Chinese history The two soul mates are adversarial than friendly and there is often betrayal, angst, and disloyalty in their stories A lot of blood has been spilled on China throughout the ages The Tang Dynasty, The Invasion of Genghis Khan, The Opium Wars, and The Cultural Revolution Taxi cab driver Wang in Beijing circa 2008 was a great character He was the glue that kept all the narratives tied together The ending floored me I did not see that happening Wow flag 7 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Nov 01, 2015 Kathleen rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves 2015 Dit is zonder twijfel een van mijn favoriete boeken dit jaar Alles wordt perfect samen geweven tot n verhaal, de personages zijn realistisch en de geschiedenis wordt niet geromantiseerd Verkrachtingen, incest, geweld, zelfmoord, Het is misschien geen boek voor gevoelige zieltjes, maar het is af Dikke dikke dikke aanrader flag 6 likesLike see review Aug 09, 2015 Shannon rated it liked it Shelves 2015 When Wang, a Beijing taxi driver, opens the visor in his cab, he stumbles upon a mysterious letter addressed to him from someone claiming to be his soulmate Over the next several weeks, letters pour in, detailing the many lives he shared with his soulmate a starving slave fleeing the Mongols, one of many imperial concubines, a trader tied up in the Opium Wars Though Wang doubts the authenticity of the letters, he can t help but feel increasing paranoia over the sense that he is being wat When Wang, a Beijing taxi driver, opens the visor in his cab, he stumbles upon a mysterious letter addressed to him from someone claiming to be his soulmate Over the next several weeks, letters pour in, detailing the many lives he shared with his soulmate a starving slave fleeing the Mongols, one of many imperial concubines, a trader tied up in the Opium Wars Though Wang doubts the authenticity of the letters, he can t help but feel increasing paranoia over the sense that he is being watched and followed.With comparisons to Midnight s Children and David Mitchell, I went into The Incarnations with high expectations for an intricate, deeply developed story that may not have been fair The concept is certainly intriguing, as it blends the past and present with an underlying mystery Unfortunately, that mystery the unknown author of the letters doesn t dig quite as deep as I had hoped, and feels much like a simple alternating narrative than a tangled tale across time.Early on, I noticed an odd, slightly rigid feel in the novel s writing It was difficult to place, but so many sentences lacked fluidity By the time I finished, I realized the book felt like it had been translated with that unmistakable sense of misplaced words, but used as a stylistic choice that didn t quite work Though Susan Barker is clearly talented, The Incarnations fell a few steps short in executing her strong, visionary idea.More at rivercityreading.com flag 5 likesLike see review View 2 comments Nov 24, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it review of another edition 3.5 starsI d heard The Incarnations described as being David Mitchell esque, which may have been to Susan Barker s detriment In no way is this even close to being a Mitchell Masterpiece, and in no way should Barker be compared to Mitchell It does her no favours and ended up detracting from my enjoyment of the book a bit unfair of me, I know.I also think that I read The Incarnations at a bad time I just wasn t in the mood for an incredibly dark, abusive book After wading through the fifth o 3.5 starsI d heard The Incarnations described as being David Mitchell esque, which may have been to Susan Barker s detriment In no way is this even close to being a Mitchell Masterpiece, and in no way should Barker be compared to Mitchell It does her no favours and ended up detracting from my enjoyment of the book a bit unfair of me, I know.I also think that I read The Incarnations at a bad time I just wasn t in the mood for an incredibly dark, abusive book After wading through the fifth or sixth scene of rape and sexual abuse, I almost gave up It was unenjoyable However, my OCD coupled with the detailed snapshots of different periods of Chinese history encouraged me to keep on reading Barker is a skilled researcher, and her talents lie in making the past come to life I dont know much about Chinese history, bar what I can remember from university Asian History classes, so it was fascinating to read about the cultural and societal backdrops to the lives of Wang The writing in The Incarnations once divorced from the idea of Mitchell was vivid and beautiful However, at its core, this is a book of depressing human suffering how many scenes of abuse do you need to make a point I m glad I read this, but I m also very glad to be done flag 5 likesLike see review View all 3 comments Aug 22, 2015 Amy rated it liked it Shelves strange magic, goodreads giveaway The Incarnations begins with Driver Wang, a taxi driver in Beijing being stalked by someone claiming to know him and his family and leaving stories for him Even though Wang reports this to the police, they tell him there is nothing they can do and so Wang continues to worry for his wife and young daughter.Each story or incarnation is told throughout the book and in chronological order, beginning with the Tang Dynasty, AD 632 and ending in 1966 with The Anti Capitalist School for Revolutiona The Incarnations begins with Driver Wang, a taxi driver in Beijing being stalked by someone claiming to know him and his family and leaving stories for him Even though Wang reports this to the police, they tell him there is nothing they can do and so Wang continues to worry for his wife and young daughter.Each story or incarnation is told throughout the book and in chronological order, beginning with the Tang Dynasty, AD 632 and ending in 1966 with The Anti Capitalist School for Revolutionary Girls The stories are often depressing with plenty of violence and abuse No wonder Wang was worried.The thing that kept me reading was Wang s personal story and to find out what would happen to his sweet daughter Echo, who is worried about someone she calls The Watcher The ending is, you guessed it, depressing, but brings the story full circle.I m not sure that I would recommend this book, but it was well written and kept me turning the page 3.5 stars flag 5 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Aug 26, 2015 Allen Adams rated it it was amazing Shelves published reviews, fiction up a book is a roll of the dice They say one should never judge a book by its cover, but often, we have little information than that to guide our decision as to whether or not to turn to the first page particularly with a newly released work We can investigate further if we so choose, but in doing so, we risk having our minds made up before the first word is read.So we leap Usually, we have a perfectly pleasant experience Occasionally, w up a book is a roll of the dice They say one should never judge a book by its cover, but often, we have little information than that to guide our decision as to whether or not to turn to the first page particularly with a newly released work We can investigate further if we so choose, but in doing so, we risk having our minds made up before the first word is read.So we leap Usually, we have a perfectly pleasant experience Occasionally, we find ourselves disappointed And sometimes very rarely we win the literary lottery.Susan Barker s The Incarnations is just such a jackpot This sprawling, time bending epic somehow manages to span a thousand years while still remaining grounded and intimate It s a monumental feat of writing the sort of wildly engaging creativity that can never be predicted, but only embraced upon its discovery.Wang is a taxi driver in Beijing His may not be a glamorous life, but it is one into which he has settled comfortably He has a wife and child, both of whom he loves dearly His job is menial and mindless certainly not the kind of thing envisioned for him by his high level bureaucrat father but it is his He is content.Everything changes one day when a letter drops into his lap as he flips down his cab s visor This letter whose writer is a mystery, identifying him herself only as Wang s soulmate is the first of many It details the story of one of Wang s past lives in vivid, haunting detail, telling the story of a life and death that took place many centuries ago Each of these lives a peasant handed off as a spirit bride, a slave escaping the devastating grasp of Genghis Khan, a fisherman turned reluctant pirate during the Opium Wars, a teenaged member of the Red Guard during Mao s Cultural Revolution is meticulously recounted As the letters continue to appear, Wang finds himself descending into a conflicted confusion, the presence of the letters forcing him to readdress some of the murkier parts of his own past He knows that he is being watched, but not the why nor the watcher The Incarnations is an undeniably ambitious undertaking, both for the writer and for the reader The sheer scale is impressive enough, yet it is also handled with such deft subtlety that it never overpowers the intimate stories of the individuals at its center It s a delicate balance one that Barker seems to strike without a hint of effort The stories being told flash across many centuries of Chinese history, breathing life into moments both ancient and all too recent The tales that unfold both in the past and in the present are fascinating and compelling, engulfing the reader fully and without apology It is also exquisitely written, but the book s craftsmanship is admirable primarily after the fact in the moment of reading, one is too swept up by the narrative flow to truly appreciate the fertile beauty of the prose Literary fiction can sometimes seem preoccupied with its own preciousness gifted writers wanting to ensure that readers notice their gifts but Barker s talent and self assurance allows her prose and her plot to elevate one another, exponentially increasing the impact of both The overall effect is genuinely remarkable.I did not know what I was getting when I picked up The Incarnations, but I knew what I had after I finally put it down a hypnotically brilliant, emotionally powerful piece of fiction that denied classification and demanded contemplation It is indisputably one of the best books of the year flag 4 likesLike see review May 14, 2016 Anna H rated it really liked it This book was one heck of a ride Fascinating and captivating, the story Susan Barker tells weaves together a modern day story of a taxi driver in 2008 in Beijing as the city prepares for the Olympics a detail that turns out not to be that important , with the stories of his previous lives spanning 1,000 years of Chinese history The stories of these incarnations are told through a series of anonymous letters that Driver Wang receives The story follows Wang s quest to find the letters author This book was one heck of a ride Fascinating and captivating, the story Susan Barker tells weaves together a modern day story of a taxi driver in 2008 in Beijing as the city prepares for the Olympics a detail that turns out not to be that important , with the stories of his previous lives spanning 1,000 years of Chinese history The stories of these incarnations are told through a series of anonymous letters that Driver Wang receives The story follows Wang s quest to find the letters author As he goes not a little crazy trying to figure that out, we learn the story of his and his family s lives My library copy has a blue Mystery sticker on its spine, but it s hard to put this book into that category There is a mystery who keeps writing these damn letters and why And by the time you get to the end of the book, you do find that out of course it s the last person you think it is As fun as it is to try and figure it out I didn t I loved relishing in the historic detail of the incarnation stories However, I loved Wang the most, as he was the true beating heart of the narrative, and I wanted a satisfying ending for him It ended disappointingly, and I don t want to say too much, because I d rather you read it and decide how you feel about the ending yourself, but there is something full circle about the story s conclusion, and it left me wanting flag 4 likesLike see review Sep 05, 2015 Shannon Kirk rated it it was amazing This book Oh this book This book forces me to reevaluate my top 5 books of all time Perhaps reevaluate life Do I displace Love in the Time of Cholera from the 1 spot No, I can t do that Do I move Orphan Master s Son down to the 3 spot Aghhh I can t do that But this book It is just downright outright flat out absolute pure grade genius How did she do this How did Barker pull all this together I am in awe The history lessons, the grand scope of political atrocities The true power This book Oh this book This book forces me to reevaluate my top 5 books of all time Perhaps reevaluate life Do I displace Love in the Time of Cholera from the 1 spot No, I can t do that Do I move Orphan Master s Son down to the 3 spot Aghhh I can t do that But this book It is just downright outright flat out absolute pure grade genius How did she do this How did Barker pull all this together I am in awe The history lessons, the grand scope of political atrocities The true power of sex over all humans Indeed, that theme of the use of sex as power, or of succumbing to that power, seemed quite the literary intellectual answer to the frivolity of Fifty Shades of Grey Reading this book made me both appreciate the time and place I live in as a woman, but also made me fear the lessons and lapses of history The overarching storyline of soul mates obsessing over and betraying each other life after life was a promised concept that sold me on the book, and boy did it deliver Problem is, now I want Not sure where in my top 5 The Incarnations lands, but it s there and the list will be updated soon If you are okay with dark themes, appreciate dark humor, love magical realism, understand the atrocities of history and the world at large, like Swamplandia Karen Russell and Orphan Master s Son, then you will love his book And like Swamplandia and Orphan Master s Son, Incarnations should likewise get play from Pulitzer It s that good flag 4 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Aug 18, 2014 Rebecca Rouillard rated it it was amazing review of another edition The Incarnations is set in Beijing in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics and Taxi Driver Wang is being stalked by an anonymous letter writer who claims that they are reincarnated soul mates As Wang s personal life starts to unravel he recalls some difficult relationships in his own past and the letter writer sends him stories of their relationship in each of their prior incarnations It sounds like quite a sentimental idea but this is not a rose tinted story themes of betrayal, mutilation and d The Incarnations is set in Beijing in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics and Taxi Driver Wang is being stalked by an anonymous letter writer who claims that they are reincarnated soul mates As Wang s personal life starts to unravel he recalls some difficult relationships in his own past and the letter writer sends him stories of their relationship in each of their prior incarnations It sounds like quite a sentimental idea but this is not a rose tinted story themes of betrayal, mutilation and death crop up in each incarnation Above all Susan Barker is a phenomenal storyteller She time travels seamlessly from the Tang Dynasty in AD 632 to contemporary Beijing and each snippet of each incarnation, rich in convincing detail, is utterly mesmerising In addition to this she weaves all of her stories together into a suspenseful plot Comparisons with David Mitchell s Cloud Atlas are justifiable The Incarnations has a slightly coherent plot, though, as all the stories are located in China, though Barker deals with many different cultural groups within this geographical area at various different points in history It s a very interesting concept and well realised flag 4 likesLike see review Sep 02, 2015 Sonya rated it really liked it Shelves 2015, best of 2015, borrowed, 1 to reread Superb storytelling about the entwined lives of Chinese people over hundreds of years I would read a sequel, too flag 4 likesLike see review View 1 comment Nov 24, 2015 Daniel rated it it was ok Mild spoilers maybe So I don t normally write reviews for books but I felt compelled to review this book I am a college student majoring in history with a keen interest in Asian history I m also a big fan of sci fi, fantasy, time travel, mysteries, etc so this seemed right up my alley I will say that I read this book extremely fast I m a big fan of books that keep you guessing and trying to figure out the twist That being said by the end of the book I was sorely disappointed It seems th Mild spoilers maybe So I don t normally write reviews for books but I felt compelled to review this book I am a college student majoring in history with a keen interest in Asian history I m also a big fan of sci fi, fantasy, time travel, mysteries, etc so this seemed right up my alley I will say that I read this book extremely fast I m a big fan of books that keep you guessing and trying to figure out the twist That being said by the end of the book I was sorely disappointed It seems that Barker was keen on exploring Chinese history and shocking and keeping the reader guessing than actually having a story that flows well and makes sense.The story follows a Chinese cab driver named Wang Yu in pre Olympic Beijing who begins getting mysterious letters from someone claiming to be his soul mate through out time He receives multiple letters, each detailing a past life in which Wang Yu and this mysterious person interacted There are a number of people that the book allows you to suspect and for a while it is fun to speculate but a few chapters before the actual reveal it becomes fairly obvious who it will be.The stories of Wang Yu s past lives are extremely interesting and interact with key parts of China s history from the villainous Emperor Jianjing to Mao s cultural revolution However if these two are soul mates then they are the worst soul mates ever They range from being related to lovers to strangers but they almost always end up ending badly One of the other problems with these stories is that they are unbelievably graphic and taboo I am far from someone who is prudish about these things, I am a big fan of the Game of Thrones books that are similarly graphic, however this book just seems like it is going for the shock rather than having any substance Many of the sex scenes and connections between the characters just left me feeling uncomfortable Still, anyone who appreciates Chinese history and doesn t mind the graphic nature of the tales will find these interesting.The main reason I was hooked into this book was the mystery so when I got to the end of the book all I could think was that was it While the book certainly ended differently than I would imagine and the letter s author is kept a mystery for as long as possible, it just didn t tie together well for me The parallelism that you would expect between the stories of the past and the present just didn t exist The relationship between Wang Yu and his soul mate changes so much through out each tale and the present that I wouldn t believe that these were supposed to be incarnations of the same souls had the book not told me it was so What makes it even worse is the last minute revelation that a tertiary character is also connected to the two and was a part of the previous stories It is so out there and does not match up at all with what we have been given about the characters that it seems like it was just added for the sake of an extra twist.All in all, this book had me hooked early, committed to power through the uncomfortable graphic nature, and finally underwhelmed and feeling duped I wish that the author had spent time on making the story work and less time on cheap shock and twists flag 4 likesLike see review View 1 comment Aug 24, 2014 Scott rated it it was amazing review of another edition This is a remarkable book, with a cast of characters that gyrate through history with mysterious attraction and force Susan Barker s research, pacing, sense of time, place, and detail are all on display here to make this a fantastic and compulsive read This is a book that makes the reader reluctant to close at night and madly plan to continue reading the next day Fortunately, the pleasure of reading this book was extended since I had few opportunities to read this in large chunks, and this ga This is a remarkable book, with a cast of characters that gyrate through history with mysterious attraction and force Susan Barker s research, pacing, sense of time, place, and detail are all on display here to make this a fantastic and compulsive read This is a book that makes the reader reluctant to close at night and madly plan to continue reading the next day Fortunately, the pleasure of reading this book was extended since I had few opportunities to read this in large chunks, and this gave the book s mysteries a much needed prolonged exposure.The closest analogue to this book is David Mitchell s Cloud Atlas, and it does not unfavorably compare Similar in that a set of characters are connected and are reincarnated in various roles throughout history, it is different in that it is restricted to China and Chinese culture This is a strength of the book, rather than a limitation Chinese history is relatively unfamiliar to the Western reader, and the richness of the story comes from its depth, rather than a global scope Without giving away too much, the plot can be summed up simply, but with tantalizing scantness a taxi driver with a speckled past and intriguing family works in Beijing around the lead up to the Beijing Olympics Mysterious letters have been delivered to him that detail his past incarnations throughout history The narrative of this taxi driver is the modern incarnation, and his life takes abrupt, uncontrollable turns as he and the reader learn about both his current and past history Exquisitely revealed hints tie these incarnations to his current life It is testament to Barker s ability to pace multiple story lines and construct the mystery of identity that the closing pages are ultimately satisfying flag 3 likesLike see review Sep 06, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing Shelves giveaways I was thrilled to win this book in a Goodreads giveaway because I am always on the lookout for a good past lives reincarnation novel, and this sounded like something I would really enjoy I loved it It s got a grittiness to it that I wasn t expecting, and the relationship between the soulmates that keep meeting up throughout the centuries is different every time but has the repeating theme of betrayal The second half of the book became a real page turner Who is writing the letters about th I was thrilled to win this book in a Goodreads giveaway because I am always on the lookout for a good past lives reincarnation novel, and this sounded like something I would really enjoy I loved it It s got a grittiness to it that I wasn t expecting, and the relationship between the soulmates that keep meeting up throughout the centuries is different every time but has the repeating theme of betrayal The second half of the book became a real page turner Who is writing the letters about their past lives to the current day main character Wang Jun The ending was extremely satisfying, plus I learned a bit about Chinese history As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it all over again, just to see if there was anything that I missed, since it was slightly mind bending at times I did end up rereading a couple of chapters right away, and liked these chapters better the second time around This copy is a keeper, and is sitting on my shelf of favorites from this genre, right next to Distant Music by Lee Langley and The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson flag 3 likesLike see review Aug 24, 2015 Sami C rated it it was amazing Shelves multiple lives This wasa very intriguing book It was like reading a dozen novels in one To summarize cab driver Wang gets mysterious letters that tell him stories about his past life These letters are from his soul mate, whom for about 98% of the book we re not entirely sure who We have suspicions, but I m not going to spoil the story for you.These letters recount their many lives together spanning over a thousand years One letter was about them being eunuch father and whore daughter, which was my fav This wasa very intriguing book It was like reading a dozen novels in one To summarize cab driver Wang gets mysterious letters that tell him stories about his past life These letters are from his soul mate, whom for about 98% of the book we re not entirely sure who We have suspicions, but I m not going to spoil the story for you.These letters recount their many lives together spanning over a thousand years One letter was about them being eunuch father and whore daughter, which was my favorite incarnation That was a really fun letter to read, I tell you.Anyway, in each letter, they keep meeting no matter what kind of person they are in their new lives Until finally, Wang s soul mate catches up to him in present time Who it is is the mystery.It s not a long book But for 384 pages, you really have to absorb every page I highly recommend this flag 4 likesLike see review Aug 02, 2014 Holly rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves female authors, poc author, to re read, favourites of 2014, be a good human tag, lgbt More people need to read this In modern day 2008 Beijing a dissatisfied taxi driver begins to receive anonymous letters from someone who claims to be his soul mate and to have known him for hundreds of years Each letter is accompanied by a story which tells of their past lives together The events chronicled in the letters have parallels to those events taking place in 2008, and the suggestion is that history will inevitably repeat itself I love layered narratives like this, and if you are a More people need to read this In modern day 2008 Beijing a dissatisfied taxi driver begins to receive anonymous letters from someone who claims to be his soul mate and to have known him for hundreds of years Each letter is accompanied by a story which tells of their past lives together The events chronicled in the letters have parallels to those events taking place in 2008, and the suggestion is that history will inevitably repeat itself I love layered narratives like this, and if you are a fan of David Mitchell s Cloud Atlas or Ruth Ozeki s A Tale for the Time Being then I d certainly recommend this book.My video review flag 3 likesLike see review previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next new topicDiscuss This Book topics posts views last activity Has anyone read this yet Too gory and violent or worth it 13 61 Aug 23, 2016 04 52PM Homosexuality 2 33 May 12, 2016 09 40AM A Novel Read The Incarnations February 2016 Book Candy 1 5 Dec 24, 2015 04 57PM More topics Share Recommend It Stats Recent Status Updates Readers Also Enjoyed.



The Incarnations by Susan Barker Reviews

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
karen

this book is very david mitchell y in structure and theme, but it is somewhat less intellectually demanding than mitchell, and

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Blair

The Incarnations, compared in the publisher s description to the work of David Mitchell, is a weird and wonderful piece of historical fantasy suspense 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

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Arielle Walker

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 know.See, 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 finish

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Carly O'Connell

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

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Aubrey

One of the main quibbles my professors have had with my essays thus far is how the ambition of my ideas isn t quite 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 pr

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Bex Dawkins

I can t explain to you how much I enjoyed reading this book Easily my favourite book I ve read this year so far.Wang is middle aged and living his life as a taxi driver in Beijing when mysterious letters start to be left in his taxi These letters are elaborate tales of Wang s previous lives from someone who claims to be his soulmate We re invited to read these letters and become engulfed in Wang s past lives, like reading many different stories which are all tied up into one book Wang has li

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Tara

This book honestly blew me away It s a spectacular narrative of a Beijing taxi driver in 2008 being shadowed by his soul mate across hundreds of years of Chinese history Absolutely breathtaking.The story was incredibly well written and intricately woven The characters were vibrant and multifaceted and often hard to sympathise with The stories were cruel and grotesque they were exposing and didn t shy away from the truth The fact that the stories had elements of historic accuracy chilled

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Taryn Pierson

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 do.I 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 better.Wang 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, quiet life When he receives a strange

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Eva Gavrilova

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 depressing.My problem with the book was that there was too much cruelty, the two main char

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Cher

3 stars It was good Sweeping between China past and present, THE INCARNATIONS illuminates the cyclical nature of history, and shows how man is condemned to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.Reincarnation is one of those trigger words for me, where if I see it in a synopsis I immediately want to read the book This was a solid addition to that theme, but not as great as I had hoped Reads almost like a collection of linked short stories, most taking place in ancient times Almost all

thumbnail Title: The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Author:Susan Barker
ISBN :
ranting: 1.5
Reviewer: 6 Reviews
Description: 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 l

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