The Moon Opera
Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2008
The debut novel of one of China’s rising young literary talents – a gem of a book that takes a piercing look into the world of Chinese opera and its female stars. In a fit of diva jealousy, Xiao Yanqiu, star of The Moon Opera, disfigures her understudy with boiling water. Spurned by the troupe, she turns to teaching.
Twenty years later, a rich cigarette-factory boss offers to underwrite a restaging of the cursed opera, but only on the condition that Xiao Yanqiu return to the role of Chang’e. So she does, this time believing she has fully become the immortal moon goddess.
Set against the drama, intrigue, jealousy, retribution, and redemption of backstage Peking opera, The Moon Opera is a stunning portrait of women in a world that simultaneously reveres and restricts them. Bi Feiyu, one of China’s young literary stars, re-creates all the temptations and triumphs of the stage.
Praise for The Moon Opera
‘The reader finds himself easily drawn into the very coded universe of Chinese opera, and experiences a medley of feelings, from curiosity to a growing feeling of scorn, compassion and pity for the heroine … A real moment of pleasure.’ – Asia News
‘This tiny, perfect novel concerns the hermetic world of traditional Peking Opera. Xiao Yanqi, exquisite star of a cursed piece called The Moon Opera , ruins her career by throwing boiling water in the face of her understudy. Twenty years later, a cigarette factory owner pays for the return of his idol. Wearing the water sleeves’ of the Moon Goddess tips Xiaou into crazed mourning for her lost youth. There are distant echoes of All About Eve – the young goddess must always usurp the old.’ – The Times